Nel's New Day

June 10, 2019

‘The Best [Corrupt] People’

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got elected, he frequently claimed that he would “surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” These “best people” have proved to be a disaster, even to DDT, and his phenomenal turnover means that at least 50 top officials left him within the past 16+ months since his inauguration.

Some of their names might not be well-known, but their disastrous influence remains. For example, leaving this past week was Kevin Hassett, chair of DDT’s Council of Economic Advisers and advocate of DDT’s tax cuts. Hassett said that his departure has nothing to do with DDT’s disastrous tariff decisions, but he questions a successful forecast in GDP growth for 2019 and is “very much concerned” about the growing fiscal deficit. Other departed economic advisers include Paul Winfree who came from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, Jeremy Katz who also pushed the tax cut bill, Dina Powell who worked with Ivanka Trump on “empowerment of women,” Gary Cohn who was formerly president and COO of Goldman Sachs who wasn’t happy with DDT’s blaming “both sides” in the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville (VA) and left after dissatisfaction with DDT’s tariff policy, Everett Eissenstat who left to be GM’s senior vice president of global public policy, Clete Willems who dumped a job to negotiate with China to join a law firm public law and policy practice, and Linda McMahon who helped build World Wrestling Entertainment who did stay with DDT to chair one of his super PACs. And these are only some of the people in his economic world.

Staying, of course, is DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who seems to be charge of almost everything because he doesn’t have any other place to go. Almost totally silent for his first two years, he appeared two times in the past few weeks. One was testimony with hardliner neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in a closed Senate session about DDT’s new immigration plan. Kushner managed to avoid most questions and failed to provide solutions while frequently interrupted by Miller. Republicans publicly praised Kushner for the presentation of a merit-based system for the highest skilled people but privately said that he lacked clear answers. He said that immigrants would be required to pass a civics test to get access to the point system but then avowed that the central purpose is to unify immigrant families, including mothers and children. He couldn’t answer a question about what do to with undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Because Kushner rejected the idea of DACA, GOP officials gave the immigration plan as much chance as Kushner’s peace plan in the Middle East—which is zero.

Kushner’s next performance, an interview with Axios, got a lot more media play: 

“Uh when there are things that they don’t do that we do not approve of, we we talk about that with them privately, but we feel like we’re in a position now where there’s a lot of interest that we have that are shared with them.”—about Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who tortured and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (After Kushner’s interview, DDT said he didn’t blame MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.)

“It’s a horrific thing that happened, and what we’ve done is we’ve called for full transparency.”—about whether the Saudis should return Khashoggi’s body for a proper burial.

“Look, I would not have come into government had there been anything salacious and nefarious that I was worried about.”—about the headline, “Background check chief has ‘never seen’ mistakes and omissions at level of Jared Kushner forms.”

“So, the answer is no, absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for president and be a racist. And what I’ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country…. Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.”—a statement that he made over and over about whether DDT is a racist, with the example that DDT continually claimed that President Obama was not born in the United States.

“Look, I think that the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”—about whether DDT’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims from the U.S. was “religiously bigoted.”

“It doesn’t make a difference.”—about the number of refugees permitted to settle in the U.S.

“I do think this is a terrible thing. Because you want people who have been successful in this country, who have taken advantage of the greatness of the opportunity that America provides, to go into government and to serve their country. When they get harassed and they have their companies looked at and their employees have to deal with this nonsense because people want to push a narrative, I think that’s a terrible thing.”—about whether Deutsche Bank should examine transactions moving cash from companies Kushner controls to Russians.

“[The meeting was] total waste of time, [and] we were not given anything that was salacious.”—about whether he should have called the FBI about Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and whether he would call the FBI if it happened again.

“Look, I’m not here to be trusted.”—about why Palestinians don’t trust him in the peace negotiations.

Kushner owns part of real estate company Cadre that received $90 million in mysterious foreign funding since he became DDT’s senior adviser. The money was funneled from a Cayman Islands through Goldman Sachs. Kushner was refused a security clearance, but DDT demanded that he be given one.

Another Cabinet member is also being investigated for conflict of interest. Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has high-level political connections in China because of her family’s shipping company which helped both Chao and McConnell prosper. Part of Chao’s job is to promote U.S. maritime industry.

Chao’s father James S.C. Chao was once roommate with Jiang Zemin who became president of China. He founded Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company in 1964 and received a big contract with the U.S. government to ship rice to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. In 1984, the Chao family acquired part of a Chinese-owned manufacturer of marine electronic equipment although they can’t remember the investment. With some of its ship-building financed by Chinese loans, Foremost ships over 70 percent of its freight, mostly iron ore, to China for steel manufacturing. DDT has temporarily lifted tariffs on imported steel. Chao’s Transportation Department has cut programs for U.S.-flagged ships and replacing ships to train U.S. mariners. Congress replaced the money, but Chao is still being questioned for her connections and status to boost Foremost’s reputation and visibility. In her confirmation hearings, she failed to mention her family’s deep ties to the Chinese maritime industry and her accolades China gives her, a violation of her questionnaire. Thirteen members of the Chao family donated over $1 million to McConnell’s campaigns and PACs. James Chao gave the couple at least $25 million.

McConnell himself also has problems with taking campaign money from Russians–$3.5 million from oligarch Oleg Deripaska. When DDT wanted to lift sanctions last year against mafia-esque Deripaska, Vladimir Putin’s friend, McConnell pushed the Senate into following DDT’s directions although the GOP House voted 362-53 to keep the sanctions in place. Lifting sanctions allowed Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal and its parent company En+ back into the U.S. Within four months of McConnell’s favor to Deripaska, who also worked with DDT’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Deripaska’s Russian aluminum company Rusal sent $200 million for a $1.7 billion aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky. Part of the action came from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), known for his ethical problems with prostitution. Vitter’s wife, one of DDT’s judicial nominees, was not been able to get confirmed for over 18 months—partly because she didn’t support Brown v. Topeka, the Supreme Court case that just celebrated its 55th anniversary for overturning public school segregation. Soon after Sen. Vitter told McConnell about brokering the deal to pour Deripaska’s money into Kentucky, wife Wendy Vitter was confirmed for her lifetime federal judicial term. And the payoffs are all out in the open, no need to hide any of the quid pro quo.

The husband/wife team work well together. Chao designated a special liaison, McConnell’s advance man Scott Inman in McConnell’s 2014 election, to help with grant applications and other priorities from the Transportation Department for McConnell’s state of Kentucky, providing him with at least $78 million for his projects as he runs for re-election in 2020. No other state has this advantage. Earmarks are supposedly no longer legal, but McConnell has found another way to funnel a large amount of money into his state as these details prove. As McConnell said, “All 100 senators may have one vote, but they’re not all equal. Kentucky benefits from having one of its own setting the agenda for the country.” And set it, he does.

October 30, 2018

Voters: ‘Don’t Take the Bait’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came up with a new diversion today. He doesn’t want people to notice that the Republicans plan to get rid of pre-existing conditions on health plans and eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. He doesn’t want people to notice that the national debt is ballooning and the deficit is rapidly increasing because he is giving money to the wealthy and big business that he had promised to use for help to the other 80 percent. And he certainly doesn’t want people to know—right before the midterm elections—that they will suffer from his new policies. His strategy is to tell them that he is taking care of the non-existent immigration problem.

Today he told today that he plans to sign an executive order to overturn an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to strip people in the United States of their citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment that specifically stated that almost everyone born in the U.S. automatically becomes a citizen was to erase the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford that blacks are “regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

People are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. if they are bound by its laws. Removing citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants would make these children immune to U.S. law altogether: the federal government could not arrest, detain, or deport them.

A decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) gave a “limited exemption” that excluded children of members of Indian tribes, children born of alien enemies in hostile invasion and occupation, and children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign state—the latter two already exempted from citizenship by earlier law. Wong Kim Ark, a laborer, was born in the United States to “persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the emperor of China.” The Supreme Court ruled that he was a citizen.

DDT’s appointee to the federal bench, Judge James Ho, may be the most conservative person to reach that position via DDT. His first judicial opinion ruled all campaign contribution limits unconstitutional, railed against the Affordable Care Act on an originalist basis, and laments—in his terms—the “moral tragedy of abortion.” Even this judge firmly from the lunatic fringe agrees with the 14th Amendment and not DDT. Or at least he did in 2011.

Even a racist Supreme Court rejected the idea over a century ago; the question is what the current GOP Supreme Court will do. Is allowing a president to arbitrarily overturn the constitution a bridge too far for Chief Justice John Roberts?

Republicans fought President Obama in any change of federal immigration law. That, however, may not block DDT’s power over immigration policy. They will probably agree with DDT that his position on citizenship is good campaign fodder.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is back to cozying up with his buddy DDT with his announcement that he will introduce a bill to replicate DDT’s executive order for ending birthright citizenship. Success for Graham requires two-thirds majorities in both congressional houses and ratification by three-fourths of the states. DDT has announced—wrongly, as usual—that an act of Congress can overturn the constitution and maybe even an executive order can accomplish that goal. Despite DDT’s lies, most countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada, have forms of birthright citizenship.

VP Pence followed his claim that “we all cherish” the 14th Amendment by saying:

“The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.”

Axios, which tries to give the appearance of a mainstream internet media source, is in DDT’s pocket. That’s the reason that DDT gave Axios’ Jonathan Swan his press release about his new non-existent plan to change the constitution with an executive order. Like Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Swan passively nods to every crazy GOP idea designed to hurt people. DDT delivers his wacko message, and Swan says, “Exactly.” Swan did tell DDT that his plan is “very much in dispute.” No, it is completely unconstitutional. But Swan tweets:

“Excited to share with you the first snippet from our interview with President Trump yesterday, ahead of the launch of Axios’ HBO show this Sunday evening.”

For Swan, it’s all about the ratings through enabling DDT, not the horrifying possibilities of DDT’s plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged voters not to “take the bait.” She added:

“He’ll say anything before the election. Don’t take the bait. Focus on ending the hate. Hug a kid. Be nice to someone you don’t know or agree with. And vote. Please vote.”

Klobuchar is right about not being distracted and being sure to vote. DDT uses his craziness to club people over the head with his immigration distractions. At the same time, he encourages white supremacy throughout the United States and puts everyone of color into great danger. He promotes his racist hatred to incite violence and killing, to reinstate the white genocide of the 19th century in the United States and promoting the election of only Republicans who will protect no one except wealthy white people.

The FBI concluded a year ago that white nationalists are as threatening to the U.S. as ISIS and that the threat of white nationalists will only grow. White supremacists have carried out three times as many attacks in the United States as people associated with ISIS, but the government holds no congressional hearings on white nationalist attacks. For the first 20 months after his inauguration, DDT protected and supported white nationalists; this past month he moved forward to declare that he is one of them by calling himself a “nationalist.” DDT has affiliated himself with white supremacists to help them drive everyone of color out of the United States. He follows his belief that he can do anything he wants without losing any support.

DDT claims that his self-identification of “nationalist” isn’t racist, yet his speech excoriating people of color overcomes this false claim. He also claims that he has nothing to do with any of the increasing violence in the nation; people are just doing it on their own without attention to his words, according to DDT. If his words mean nothing, why does he keep talking? Why does he keep attacking women and people of color? Because he loves the control and knows that some of the people will follow his “dog-whistles” to commit violence in his name.

If you want to protect democracy, if you want to keep the United States from being an armed battleground where no one is safe either inside or outside homes, don’t be discouraged by the GOP voter suppression that tries to keep everyone except the Republican base from casting ballots.

Vote! (And the deadline is November 6, no matter what Republicans tell you.)

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