Nel's New Day

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!

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