Nel's New Day

October 16, 2019

Donald of the Thousand Days

Fifty years ago, the popular film Anne of the Thousand Years told the story of Anne Boleyn’s three years of tenure before England’s King Henry VIII had her beheaded so that he could marry another woman. Although she ruled for slightly more than 1,000 days, the title may reflect on the downward spiral of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during his first thousand days. A few memorable moments from those days.

Last March, DDT wanted to shoot migrants—including asylum seekers—so that they wouldn’t cross the southern border. Told that this was illegal, he wanted to shoot them in the legs to slow them down as Israelis do to Palestinians. His Department of Homeland Security told him that shooting migrants was illegal, starting his purge of over a dozen top officials from the DHS. DDT didn’t quit: he decided that he wanted to electrify his border wall, fortify it with spikes to pierce human flesh, and build a moat (which he spelled “moot”) stocked with snakes and alligators. He even asked aides for a cost estimate of his plans. Peter Singer has created one, available here. Costs: $2.5 billion in set-up costs for snakes and alligators, $1.8 billion for annual operating costs; and several billion dollars for building the moat. DDT’s incessant, punitive and sometimes illegal attack on immigrants is chronicled in Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear.

One of the most humorous episodes of DDT’s 1,000 days is his desire to buy Greenland. He even cancelled his state visit to Denmark because Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she wouldn’t sell Greenland to him. The Danish newspaper Politiken published a satiric piece in which Kim Kielsen, Premier of Greenland, suggested his government might buy the U.S. back. The author parodied an interview with Kielsen saying Greenland has a prior claim on the U.S. because Leifr “The Lucky” Eiríksson was the first European to settle America. Kielsen said no price had been established, but Greenland would take into consideration the vast U.S. debt and lower the price if DDT were included in the deal. (Technically, Eiríksson, although spending part of his childhood in Greenland and some of his adulthood working for the Norwegian court, was born in Iceland.)

Although DDT tweeted that he didn’t plan to build one of his towers in Greenland, his son Jr. took the photo seriously, cheering that this building could be finished within ten years. 

DDT did joke about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland, and Puerto Ricans are delighted with the possibility. A man tweeted about the improvement of education because “Denmark is the country with the best education in the world.” Nieto, a Puerto Rican podcaster, shared photos of his Danish “Starter Kit” with “Danish Delights” butter cookies, the TV show Vikings, and Danish beer. Others included a Danish-to-Spanish dictionary on their “Starter Kits.” Another tweet added a picture of a “Conversational Danish” reading book. Using the hashtags #DenmarkPR and #DinamarcaPR, Denmark in Spanish, Puerto Ricans claimed the Danish royal family with perks of being a Danish territory, “representation in the Europe [League] and possibly in the World Cup.”

People around the world now know that Greenland isn’t for sale, but tourism searches soared after DDT’s unrequited demand.

DDT already showed Denmark his antagonism when he sent them Carla Sand as the U.S. ambassador. The wealthy widow of a billionaire and climate denier who promotes QAnon conspiracy theories such as a fake video reportedly about blacks hitting a white woman DDT supporter bought her position for under $300,000. The cancellation of his visit less than two weeks before the event—a visit which DDT initiated—was a snub that cost both countries money and provided more reason for the European Union not to trust him to follow through with his promises. Denmark had already organized discussions about increasing investments in the United States. 

Some people speculated that DDT also cancelled his visit to avoid comparison with President Obama, who visit a few weeks after DDT’s aborted visit. DDT has always been jealous of the former president because of how well liked the former president is–and how much better he looks as shown by their visits to England. Or neo-Nazi aide Stephen Miller told DDT to avoid those “globalists” in his campaign term. 

In another baffling episode, delusional DDT told 9/11 First Responders that he had helped at Ground Zero:

“And I was down there also …. I spent a lot of time down there with you.”

Retired New York City Fire Department Deputy Chief Richard Alles stated he never heard of a group of rescuers hired by DDT to assist, as DDT claimed, and that additional help from private responders had not been necessary. Ground Zero was on lockdown by 9/15/01, and a government-issued ID badge was required to access the site. DDT’s claim that he “helped” clear rubble adds to the other lies about his involvement in assistance after the tragedy. One gas station owner went a step farther in promising free gas on any day that DDT “doesn’t say something stupid.” 

DDT told the AMVETS, a volunteer-led veterans service organization, that his aides talked him out of giving himself a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for acts of military valor. A reminder: during the Vietnam War, DDT avoided the military with five deferments, four for college and one for bone spurs in his heel. He made this comment shortly after he named himself “the Chosen One” in his administration’s trade conflict with China and looked up at the sky to make his point clear. In Australia, he told his audience he gave himself bogus awards all the time, but he wasn’t lying because he received them from himself.

Medals are important to DDT also ordered the Navy Achievement Medals awarded to four prosecutors in the Eddie Gallagher case be rescinded. The Navy SEAL platoon turned Gallagher in for stabbing a captured and wounded teenage fighter repeatedly in the neck and then threatened to kill those who reported him. Yet DDT sold a Medal of “Freedom” to Miriam Adelson for campaign donations. She and her husband, Sheldon, gave $500,000 to a legal fund for DDT’s aides involved in the Russian scandal investigation. This “freedom” donation topped the $30 million DDT received from the Adelsons in late 2016 and the $100 million to GOP candidates and PACs for the 2018 election. They also donated $5 million to DDT’s inaugural committee. In return for their largesse, DDT moved the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Created by John F. Kennedy, the Medal of Freedom is awarded for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Sheldon Adelson received $670 million in the first quarter of 2018 because of DDT’s tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, and DDT lobbied Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to allow construction of a casino owned by one of Adelson’s companies. DDT displayed other forms of gratitude for donations. For prolific GOP donor Robert Murray, DDT pressured the Tennessee Valley Authority to save an old, unprofitable coal plant that buys its coal from Murray Energy. EPA Secretary Andrew Wheeler is an ex-lobbyist for Murray. DDT stopped negotiating lower drug prices after Pfizer gave $1 million to DDT’s inaugural fund.

DDT topped off his 1000 days by posting this photograph of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) shut down his insane comments about Syria by saying that “all roads with you lead to Putin.” He thought he could embarrass Pelosi with the caption of “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” Pelosi now uses the photo of DDT’s personal meltdown on her Twitter account, and the image shows his bewilderment and the ducked heads around the room.  

For the past 1000 days, DDT has run the United States like a Banana Republic for his personal gain:

  • He relentlessly demonizes the press, putting journalists’ lives at risks by calling for violence against them.
  • He undermines a federal criminal investigation and claims that he is above the law, even above any scrutiny.
  • He interferes with election results and voting rights, for example trying to throw out Arizona’s election results when Democrat Kyrsten Sinema received more votes than GOP Martha McSally. 
  • He pardons crimes for ideological reasons, for example when he pardoned Arizona’s former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio in an “endorsement of racism” and “deep disdain for the judiciary,” according to Chiraag Bains, senior fellow at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Policy Program.
  • He shamelessly monetizes the position of president by not divesting from real estate holdings and hiring his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner who also keep running their businesses.

In DDT’s first 1000 days, he spent 310 days at his resorts and 239 days playing golf at his courses. He daily lies, with a total of at least  13,435, and makes “stupid” comments, something that this gas station owner noted.

 

October 11, 2018

United States, A Banana Republic

“Banana Republic” is a term to describe governments with countries that suffer from lack of democracy and corruption. How the United States fits the description of a “banana republic”:

An extremely stratified social class with a large impoverished working class and an ultra-rich ruling-class plutocracy with a lack of a middle class and lack of upward mobility: The U.S. has had the highest income inequality and lowest upward mobility of any country in the developed world for several years, and it keeps worsening.

Government’s corrupt connection with big business: As in fascist countries, U.S. conservative politicians have supported the merger of state and corporate power by removing regulations, giving corporations billions of dollars in tax cuts and subsidies, and putting banks and corporations above the law. The person occupying the Oval Office is profiting with millions—possibly trillions—from domestic groups and foreign government encouraged to use his businesses despite his constitutional violation of the Emoluments Clause.

A male business, political, and military elite controlling the nation: In a circular pattern, politicians take money from business for campaigns in exchange for subserviency, and conservative politicians vote for increased military expenses to keep money flowing into their states. Lack of regulations moves wealth offshore while workers suffer. Conservative politicians put white conservative males into control on the courts, protecting only white males and big business and permitting illegal tax evasion. All new DDT judicial nominees are male, recognizing that “we the ruling males” are in charge instead of the constitutional “we the people.” Less than one-third of the U.S. population is white male, but they still control the nation.

Police corruption and expanding police state: The frequent pattern of using military equipment for police actions is like military actions in Iraq, and law enforcement increasingly kill people in “accidents” or badly orchestrated sting operations. Laws since 9/11 permit warrantless wiretapping and other tactics common in dictatorships.

Highest incarceration rate in the world: The 716 prisoners per 100,000 residents in the U.S. far exceed the 114 in Canada, the 79 in German, and even the 162 in Saudi Arabia. Privatized prisons have greatly increased the number of prisoners because the government gets kickbacks from these businesses for their campaigns that keep them the ruling party.

Lack of access to healthcare: Despite the Affordable Care Act, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) created a path to health insurance that doesn’t provide for pre-existing conditions, hospitalizations, maternal care, and other health needs by conning them into believing that they save money. DDT’s newest plan is like a person paying less for a car that doesn’t run. People in the U.S. pay more than most developed countries for healthcare expenses and are reduced to medical bankruptcies but are convinced that universal health care is evil.

Much shorter life expectancy in poor than wealthy: In one West Virginia county, life expectancy for males is 63.9 years compared to 81.6 years, 17.7 years higher, in affluent Fairfax County (VA)—a difference of 27 percent. Bangladesh life expectancy is higher than McDowell County (WV). U.S. women’s life expectancy was #41 in 2010.

Hunger and malnutrition: Banana republics are associated with food insecurity, but the need for food stamps in the U.S. has increased from one in 50 during the 1970s to one in eight with 50 million people, including 12 million children, suffering from food insecurity.

High infant mortality: Fifty-seven countries have a smaller infant mortality rate than the U.S. In first-day death rate, babies dying the day that they are born, the U.S. has the highest rate in the industrialized world, twice as many as in the European Union.

One idealistic view of saving the United States is to vote, and millions of people want to exercise their right to select their representatives in this republic. Yet conservative politicians block the ability for millions to vote. Beyond white males rigging the districts so that a state with a majority of Democrats will elect almost all Republicans for state and federal elected officials, voter ID laws that prevent people from voting. The following states have created these ways to keep people from voting:

Arizona: Secretary of State Michele Reagan won’t be required to update voter registration addresses of 384,000 Arizonans who moved since the last election, even if the Motor Vehicle Division system won’t change addresses until people “opt-in” to update their information in conflict with the National Voter Registration Act. When people show up at the wrong polling place because of Reagan’s inaction, the voter can go to the new address and cast a provisional ballot. The state, however, has a record of destroying these without recording them. Reagan said that she’ll fix the system sometime next year—after the midterm election. Maybe.

Florida: Whether prisoners and released felons can vote is dependent on state law. A few states don’t have restrictions against voting after the felons serve their sentence, but a few rely on “individual petitions.” Of the 6 million people with felony convictions permanently barred from voting, about 1.5 million of them are from Florida, and over 20 percent of them are black. Gov. Rick Scott is in charge of deciding whether each one can be permitted to vote, and he has granted only 8 percent of those requesting the right to vote with a backlog of over 10,000 not yet reviewed.

Georgia: Brian Kemp is the state Secretary of State and in charge of elections. Kemp is also running for governor. He is keeping 53,000 voter applications from being processed because of typographical errors. The list has a disproportionately high number of black voters. Kemp’s opponent is Stacey Abrams, a black woman. Because Kemp is in charge of elections, there is no proof that he legitimately won the primary to become candidate in the general election, especially after indications of voting corruption within the past few years. Kemp is also being sued for using a racially-biased methodology to purge 700,000 voters from the rolls in the past two years and failing to send notices of the removal to voters. That’s ten percent of registered voters. Kemp also kept the state from having a paper trail to its woefully inadequate digital voting system, allowing him more election corruption.

North Dakota: A state law, challenged but approved in court, mandates that all voter IDs have residential addresses. Even the Supreme Court thinks that people without street addresses should not have the right to vote. This law takes voting rights from the homeless and people living on Native American reservations who lack the “residential address.”

Texas: Delivering a letter demanding that Waller County address its problems with rejecting registrations of students at Prairie View A&M resulted in the arrest of the campaign staffer presenting the missive to a clerk. Jacob Aronowitz, a field director for Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel, photographed the clerk taking the letter, and the clerk objected. When he was arrested, Aronowitz called Siegal who heard Aronowitz asking why he was being held and telling the detaining officer that his lawyer, Siegel, was running for office. Aronowitz was asked for Siegel’s political party, and the officer kept Aronowitz’s phone with his records when he was released. The county gave students the address to use for registration because all students use one post office box and then refused to accept it on the last day to register, jeopardizing the registrations. The letter demanded that the county update the existing registrations because students had followed the county’s direction. Waller County is uncomfortable with students voting because the student body is 82 percent black while the county is 70.5 percent white. It opposed students’ right to vote until a 1979 case in the U.S. Supreme Court upheld students’ right to register at their college address. The county wouldn’t obey the high court ruling, declaring in 2004 that students were ineligible to vote because they failed to meet the residency requirement. The campus did not get a polling place until 2013. So the county, which does not want the students to vote, gave them the wrong address for registration, refused to accept the address they gave students, arrested a person obtaining verification that he delivered a letter of complaint, lied about his not identifying himself, asked for the political party of the person objecting, and refused to return the arrested party’s possessions when he was released.

Voting could help move the United States from a banana republic—if citizens get the permission to cast a ballot and their ballots are counted. Until that time, the U.S. will remain a banana republic.

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