Nel's New Day

January 11, 2020

DDT: Week 155 – Disasters in Iran, Regulations

Another weekend, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his growing series of demented tweets. He’s attacked the FBI for investigating Russian interference in the 2020 election, accused Democrats of defending Qassem Soleimani who he assassinated, claimed that his approval is over 60 percent instead of about the low 40s, and sent a message in Farsi that praises Iranian protesters for trying to overturn the government. DDT claimed, “I’ve stood with you since the beginning,” despite his refusal to allow Iranian immigrants in the U.S. and held Iranian-born U.S. citizens for hours at the Canadian border when they tried to return home after attending a concert in Vancouver. He claims that his killing Soleimani makes people more safe, but a USA Today/Ipsos poll disagree with him by 2-1. A majority in the poll, 52 percent, called DDT’s behavior with Iran “reckless.”   

Since he killed Soleimani, DDT has scrambled to find an excuse for the murder. Initially, DDT told associates that he killed Soleimani to get support from senators in his impeachment trial. By now, DDT has invented “imminent” threats, first an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and then another three unnamed U.S. embassies. These assertions are at odds with intelligence information (agents who DDT calls “dirty cops”) and was not reported in the classified briefings to Congress. Secretary of State supports DDT’s claims, beginning with not knowing location or time of attacks to agreeing with DDT without evidence. Always ready to lie for DDT, VP Mike Pence asserted that DDT has proof of the threats but can’t tell anyone else.

Iran has now admitted to accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet and killing 176 people because of excessive caution after DDT killed Soleimani. DDT’s explanation for the plane crash was that “it was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood.” Despite Pompeo’s claims that people are safer after Soleimani was killed, airlines are changing or withdrawing flights, and Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is removing all Filipinos from Iraq and Iran.  

Soleimani’s death has not driven the U.S. into war with Iran—yet—but it has dire impacts:

More possible U.S. war deaths in the Middle East: Today the Taliban planted a bomb in southern Afghanistan that killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two others.

More volatility and instability in a warring and explosive area: The Taliban may find links with Iran rather than peace with the U.S., serious conflicts in Yemen may worsen, and Pakistan may be involved in creating violence.  

An increase in ISIS violence and leadership: Soleimani opposed ISIS; his absence may create new divisions.

Iran’s withdrawal from nuclear restrictions: Iran had lived up to its agreement to not enrich uranium until DDT pulled out of the agreement and threatened sanctions and force.

Iraqi rejection of the U.S.: Iraq’s Parliament voted to expel the U.S. military, and young Iraqis may have more power in turning against democracy.

Strengthening hard-line conservative Iranian factions: Reformist president and foreign minister will lose the ability for diplomacy and all trust because their opposition believes that the U.S. wants to destroy Iran.

Loss of U.S. allies: DDT has ignored communication about his violent strategies and dropped out of any cooperation with them, including his past denigration of NATO that is now withdrawing its forces.

Violation of violate international, domestic and Iraqi law: DDT’s illegal actions creates a pattern of more lawlessness in crimes of aggression violating the UN Charter and his threats to attack cultural targets. He also violated the U.S. Constitution by ignoring its requirements for congressional approval for military actions.  

Increase in the U.S. military-industrial complex: Weapon makers have gained great control and power over U.S. policy, especially since George W. Bush’s preemptive attack on Iraq, and their wealth has purchased conservative lawmakers who remove resources for health care, education, and public services.

Destruction of world economy: Asia is dependent on Iraqi oil exports, and an attack already shut down half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, causing more disruption.

In a 224-to-194 vote, the House approved a bill to keep DDT from taking more military action against Iran through congressional authority as mandated by the constitution. Eight Democrats voted no; three Republicans voted yes, including Florida’s Matt Gaetz who vociferously defended DDT in the past. The bill goes to the Senate where it needs four Republicans to pass before DDT vetoes the bill. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said that even a veto could influence DDT’s actions, for example when he stopped refueling Saudi jets after Congress threatened to stop U.S. support for Saudi’s military campaign in Yemen. DDT’s former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who may run for Arkansas’ governor, said:

“I can’t think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy. The last thing we want to do is push powers into Congress’ hands and take them away from the president.”

Republicans have always claim that they revere the U.S. Constitution and lambast Democrats for ignoring the document from the Founding Fathers. Sanders is completely ignorant of Article I, Section 8, Clause 1:

“The Congress shall have power…[t]o declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.”

In addition, the War Powers Act of 1973 limits the president from sustained military operations without telling Congress within 48 hours.

Another DDT focus is doing away with regulations, a disaster as proved by FAA’s abdication of inspections to airplane manufacturing. The Boeing debacle continues with the knowledge of communications among the company’s employees about the 737 MAX demonstrating lax federal oversight of airplane manufacturers. According to a Politico article, emails showed “Boeing employees bragging about duping airlines, criticizing the MAX’s design as done by “clowns,” and raising concerns about cost-cutting and schedule pressures.” Wide publicity about the Boeing disaster began with 346 deaths in two different crashes of 737 MAX planes, which was rushed into manufacture in competition with Airbus. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) tried to blame the crashes on inadequate training in other countries, but evidence from emails may “put a little bit of a shadow on that.” Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) is still sticking to his blame on pilot error.

Emails also showed that employees ridiculed their regulator, joked about safety, and “was prioritizing production speed over quality and safety,” according to a former senior factory manager. Last month, Edward Pierson told Congress of “chaos” at the factory where the MAX was built. The FAA permitted the MAX to keep flying despite its finding that, with no changes, the plane would average one fatal crash every two or three years.

Employees described how Boeing hid problems from the FAA during the certification of simulators and training for pilots. Emails showed ridicule for FAA officials when employees described a complicated Boeing presentation for the agency that “was like dogs watching TV.” Employers wanted limited training for airline crews to save money for Boeing, for example offering a $1 million per plane discount to Southwest with a short computer-based training on personal computers or with notebooks for pilots who had flown he 737 NG instead of simulator training. Even after two crashes, Boeing told the FAA that simulator training was unnecessary and didn’t mention this training in the manuals. Boeing didn’t reverse this position until ten months after the 737 MAX’s grounding and a congressional investigation.

Boeing’s indifference to the plane’s structural problems has now cost 2,800 jobs in Kansas at the aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems.

Despite the Boeing disaster, DDT calls regulations a “nightmare.” He proposed removal of environmental reviews for building pipelines, bridges, and roads, a change that will pollute the nation and accelerate the climate crisis. [Think of the recent fires in Australia that killed over 1 billion animals and at least 27 people, destroyed or damaged over 2,000 homes, cost about $5 billion thus far, and reduced Australian 2019-20 GDP by between $2.1 billion and $4.3 billion.] Changes would eliminate a requirement for agencies to consider the “cumulative impacts” of project that has included the study of planet-warming consequences from greenhouse gas. DDT has rolled back 58 separate rollbacks of environmental protection and considering another 37, including removal of clean air and water rules, loosening regulation for oil an gas extraction, and eradication of wildlife protections. 

About his murdering Soleimani, DDT said he was looking for long-term protection, but his environmental policy ignores everything except greater profits for big businesses. Even now, however, worsening particulate pollution from DDT’s regulatory changes shares the blame for 9,700 more people in the U.S. dying from air pollution in 2018 than 2016.

December 26, 2019

DDT: Week 153 – Not a ‘Merry’ Christmas

[Note: My weekly roundup of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) happenings is a day earlier, and I may not be posting on Nels New Day for the next week. See you in 2020!)

DDT stayed quiet about Saudi Arabia’s exoneration of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman, the man behind the killing according to the CIA, got off scot free while five people were sentenced to death and three others to prison. The two men who directed the torture and dismemberment, former deputy chief of intelligence Ahmed al-Assiri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top aid Saud al-Qahtani, were exonerated. DDT claimed that he protected MBS so he could sell them weapons, but he also personally makes millions from the Saudi’s use of his hotels and their real estate purchases. 

North Korea threatens a “Christmas gift” of nuclear testing, and DDT’s former national security adviser claims that DDT’s administration will soon need to admit failure in stopping NK’s nuclear ambitions because the U.S. is not “exerting maximum pressure on North Korea.” The U.S. has only a “rhetorical policy” with no actions to stop NK having nuclear weapons that can hit the U.S. or its allies. North Korea is “operating at full tempo” in building nuclear warheads according to experts, but DDT says things are just fine between him and Kim Jong-Un. A new structure was seen on a recent satellite image of the location where NK makes equipment for launching long-range missiles, and Bolton called NK an “imminent” threat.

After far-right evangelical Christian leaders’ attacks on the op-ed in Christianity Today advocating impeachment, author Mark Galli reported a boost in readership and support that outweighs criticism. In a second CT op-ed, editor Timothy Dalrymple wrote that evangelicals can be proud of DDT’s anti-abortion and religious liberty stands but evangelicals are “also associated with President Trump’s rampant immorality, greed, and corruption; his divisiveness and race-baiting; his cruelty and hostility to immigrants and refugees; and more.” The Christian Post, published by DDT-supporting Richard Land, then attacked CT, causing Napp Nazworth, a CP editor since 2011, to quit. He said, “They’ve chosen to represent a narrow (and shrinking) slice of Christianity. That might be a good business decision, short term at least. But it’s bad for Democracy, and bad for the Gospel.” DDT is punishing anyone—including evangelicals—who don’t support him.

On the other end of retaliation comes massive rewards, as for Robert Blair, who refused to testify for the impeachment inquiry despite his witnessing DDT’s withholding military aid to Ukraine. Blair will support the 5G development efforts despite no background in telecommunications. With a law and diplomacy degree, he has overseen spending, most recently in the Defense Department, before he became senior advisor in national security issues for acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Johnnie Moore, a DDT appointee, participated on a UN panel to decriminalize homosexuality in 70 countries other than the U.S. but concentrated only on eliminating sodomy. Known for his anti-LGBTQ messages, Moore opposes marriage equality and supports DDT’s transgender military ban. 

Amidst Boeing’s disasters, CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg has been fired—immediately. Boeing’s shares dropped 22 percent since the grounding of the 737 Max planes in March, a $52 billion market value loss. Those in the know think that the new CEO David L. Calhoun, hired to reassure people, won’t make many changes.

To circumvent federal laws preventing the government from collecting some types of information, ICE uses social media and for-profit data brokers to track at least one immigrant before arresting him. The person’s only crime was to reenter the U.S. to be with his family. Reuters has a $20 million contract with ICE for use of its CLEAR database. Over 55 percent of all prosecuted federal crimes in fiscal 2018 were immigrant-related, an 87 percent increase during DDT’s first full year, with the vast majority being misdemeanor illegal entry.

Property owners in southern Texas don’t want to give up their land for the wall, but DOJ lawyers are filing lawsuits to take the land. Last week, they tried to seize the land before a scheduled court hearing in February. The Fifth Amendment requires “just compensation,” but the government can deposit any amount it deems fair with the court and then immediately take the land. Two judges recently ordered a private pro-DDT group to stop building its own wall so workers went on vacation for a few weeks. On another property in a federal wildlife refuge, workers decided that the land was too saturated to support metal bollards on top of concrete panels.

DDT’s retaliation against anyone disagreeing with him is to be feared, according to former Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), who did not run for re-election after expressing concern about DDT’s erratic behavior in a closed-door meeting with GOP colleagues. Other former and current GOP lawmakers and party strategists have anonymously agreed that elected officials can either retire or not criticize DDT. Out of office, Trott said:

“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way. But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted “Merry Christmas” yesterday before he launched into his increasingly vitriolic messages targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom for California’s homeless problem, the FISA court, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). His Christmas message called for “deeper understanding and respect.”

George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that requires 25 percent greater efficiency for household light bulbs. DDT blames President Obama for banning incandescent bulbs and continued his rants against problems with toilets, water for washing hands, and dishwashers. His latest problem is alternative energy when he said, “I never understood wind.” Then he claims that windmills create “tremendous fumes.” The person elected by 63 million people for the U.S. president can’t get his toilets to flush and doesn’t understand wind.

Why do people support DDT? In the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew identifies five major phenomena of his supporters:

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome: The advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom demonstrates a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. This syndrome can be displayed by aggression toward “outsiders,” resistance to new experiences, and a rigid view of a hierarchical society. Because it can be triggered by fear, leaders can use this emotion to gain allegiance. DDT is especially appealing to people with this syndrome.

Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): Related to the authoritarian personality syndrome, SDO highlights societal hierarchy of groups. DDT stresses the whites as having a higher status over immigrants and minorities. People scoring high in these first two characteristics tended to vote for DDT.

Prejudice: Going back to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the GOP appeals to bigotry with code words signaling prejudice toward minorities audible to racists. DDT is more direct by calling Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers.”

Intergroup Contact: Contact with other groups than one’s own can reduce prejudice; DDT’s white supporters have significantly less contact with minorities. A 2016 study showed “racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.”

Relative Deprivation: Discontent comes from feeling deprived of what people believe they deserve, compared to others who they perceive as equal or inferior but who (unfairly) achieved more. DDT supported people’s feeling of entitlement by talking about U.S. jobs lost to Mexico and China while ignoring the large number of jobs lost to automation. https://qz.com/1144201/under-trump-us-jobs-are-moving-overseas-even-faster-than-before/   Ironically, DDT has sent more jobs overseas, including an additional 150 percent of federal contractors, than President Obama. The term “relative is used because the perception is skewed rather than “absolute.” For example, median annual income of DDT’s supporters is $72,000, smashing the myth of their being rebellious “working class.”

DDT promised a great economy for the United States, but the blue states bucking his policies see a faster growing economy than red states. Obsession to fracking caused 165,000 jobs, and coal mining has 53,000, an extra 2,000 during DDT’s office. Recent economic growth has occurred in urban areas, especially in the service industry. Blue states have increased the minimum wage, providing the national growth in wages which is small because the red states have largely left the wages static and suffering from inflation. The most heavily pro-Clinton areas saw mean household income increases of over $15,000 compared to the less than $10,000 rise in the most heavily pro-DDT areas. DDT promised jobs and wages; his tariffs brought exactly the opposite.

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

May 6, 2019

Back to the Swinging Doors of DDT’s Administration

People keep moving in an out of the administration:

Stephen Moore is the latest person to be fired before hired. Once a recommendation by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) alongside Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board, he lasted longer than Cain. DDT said that he had pulled his name, but two hours earlier Moore had claimed that DDT was “full speed ahead” and that Moore is “all in.” The same thing happened to Cain who was positive that he was the nominee until DDT’s tweet told a different story. For the past month, Moore complained about a “sleaze” campaign that cited his writings from years ago. Yet the day before DDT dumped him, he talked about higher wages for women than for the “breadwinner” causing the “family instability.” Moore has much more going against him currently than his lack of experience, ignorance, racism, and misogyny. His leadership of the Koch-backed ALEC proved his austerity and anti-labor positions promoting income inequality, stagnant incomes, and suppressed wages.Ten years ago, Moore said, “I’m not even a big believer in democracy.”

Like Nixon, DDT is trying to politicize the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates and get re-elected. Nixon got his wish in a booming economy, but his scheme led to double-digit inflation.

Oil lobbyist David Bernhardt lasted four days without being investigated after he was confirmed as Interior Department Secretary from Senate Republicans. This coming week, both his investigator and the agency’s top lawyer face Senate confirmation hearings for their posts. The lawyer, who formerly advised the Koch brothers, advised both Bernhardt and his predecessor, Ryan Zinke, regarding legal and ethical issues as well as serving as chief public records officer. This connection erases any separation between politics and Freedom of Information in an agency that works hard to hide their actions. The lawyer said his “job is to protect the Secretary.”

Bernhardt is being investigating for involvement in policies affecting former clients. The Department admitted that Bernhardt’s staff deliberately failed to record his controversial meetings with representatives of fossil fuel, timber and water interests on his public calendar by citing “internal protocol.” They also confirmed he used a personal itinerary overwritten by his scheduling staff after denying that it happened for several months. Many entries were simply described as “internal” or “external.” An agency officer told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the Oversight Committee, that Bernhardt’s calendar was “deleted at the end of the day.” These practices also violate federal record laws. Later a Department spokeswoman said these practices didn’t exist.

The investigation in the Interior Department includes a total of six of DDT’s appointees who may have conflicts of interest by engaging with former employers or clients about the business of the Department. These include Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Assistant Secretary kept interacting with his former employer, a conservative think tank, after he joined the Interior Department to discuss pending lawsuits that were settled in his former employer’s interests. Another investigation concerned a former lobbyist for the NRA who participated in issues about his former clients after he joined the Department. He also got recreational shooting opened up in the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Mark Morgan is DDT’s pick for the head of ICE. He supports DDT’s wall on the southern border and denied that children were held in “cages.” Earlier this year, DDT has named Ronald Vitiello for the position but dropped him, saying that “we’re going in a tougher direction.” Matthew Albence, currently acting ICE director, had said that immigration detention is like “summer camp.” A former senior official said, “Matt never met an undocumented immigrant that he wouldn’t deport.”

Morgan is a good match for Kevin McAleenan, new acting DHS secretary, who promoted family separation to “protect families and children,” even separating legal asylum seekers at legal ports of entry. Last December, McAleenan broke the law by failing to notify Congress with 24 hours of the deaths of two children. Then he forced migrant families to sleep underneath an El Paso bridge in dangerous, unhealthy conditions. McAleenan was in charge of firing tear gas at asylum-seekers. His agents were also well known for ethnic profiling, illegal searches, seizure of religious items, and sometimes, murder and rape.

Julie Kirchner, former leader for the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform, is DDT’s consideration to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if DDT fires Francis Cissna in Stephen Miller’s purge of the federal government. Founded by a white supremacist, FAIR has been labeled a hate group. Currently Kirchner investigates individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities for USCIS. If confirmed for the head of the agency, she would control the adjudication of applications for asylum, green cards, citizenship, and renewals for protective programs like DACA and TPS.

Patrick Shanahan remains acting as Secretary of Defense as more and more bad news comes from and about his former employer and friend, Boeing. The latest is Boeing’s admission that warning lights were “optional” on the 737 Max commercial jetliners that killed hundreds of people in the last few months. Earlier Boeing tried to blame pilots for their lack of performance. Now the company claims that the lights had no impact on the planes’ safety. Only 20 percent of ordered planes had this upgrade to activate the warning sensor. Neither pilots nor the FAA safety inspectors and supervisors were told about the lack of this safety feature. DDT has suggested that Boeing can solve all its problems with the 737 Max 8 jets by renaming them.

Less than two weeks ago, an internal investigation cleared Shanahan of conflicts of interest although Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson expressed three concerns: his decision to accept the problematic KC-46 tanker, his meeting with Space X CEO Elon Musk, and possible inappropriate sharing of classified information from Boeing programs. Shanahan also incessantly praised the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Internal documents about the Dreamliner production as well as interviews with employees show the same kind of shoddy work on the 737 Max. A quality manager who pointed out problems was moved to other parts of the South Carolina plant where Boeing moved manufacturing despite a lack of comparable work force to that in the Seattle area. As a “right-to-work” state, South Carolina employees can be paid less than in Washington, and the state gave Boeing $1 billion. Fortunately, the Dreamliner has not had a crash yet although it was grounded for a time because of overheating batteries.

Last week, a Boeing 737 slid off a Florida runway into the St. Johns River.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is one of the subjects named by Sears in a lawsuit against its former CEO Edward Lampert, claiming that Mnuchin was part of the board members who helped Lampert and his hedge fund strip Sears of over $2 billion. Lampert and Mnuchin were roommates at Yale University and worked together at Goldman Sachs.

Jared Kushner has done his daddy-in-law proud with his extremely rare public appearance at the Times 100 Summit. He downplayed the Russian election interference from the Mueller report as “a couple of Facebook ads.” Kushner missed the part about the “expansive and expensive” Russian attack, as described by Steve Benen, including “public events, advertising, rallies, p.r. stunts, outreach to domestic allies, and an aggressive social-media component [that] reached as many as 126 million people.”

John Kelly, once DHS Secretary before becoming DDT’s chief of staff, has found a way to make money off his attitudes about immigrants and still avoid DDT. Kelly is now a board member of Caliburn International, the company owning the biggest detention centers for unaccompanied migrant youth. Caliburn received $222 million from taxpayers for a year, but their centers’ capacity has increased from 1,250 beds to 3,200 beds in just one detention center.

Scott Walker, loser as presidential candidate and Wisconsin’s most recent gubernatorial race, found a new job: he’s honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions—aka pusher for a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Ostensibly a Republican, Walker seems to be on the opposite side of congressional Republicans who are driving the national debt sky high. In every date, including Wisconsin, the infrastructure is collapsing while wealthy individuals and corporations received massive tax cuts.

Before he left Wisconsin, Walker put the state’s taxpayers on the hook for $4.1 billion to employ 13,000 people at Foxconn’s manufacturing plant. The deal was announced with DDT; a photo may show the only work DDT has done. Foxconn backed out of the manufacturing plant, and the number of employees dropped to 1,000 workers—about $4 million for each job. Manufacturing the product in China will “be more profitable” for Foxconn, according to one of its officials. Last year, the company hired 178 people, 82 fewer than needed for its first $10 million tax cut. On the campaign trail a week ago, DDT asked Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, to be more “optimistic and hopeful” about Foxconn. Without re-negotiation, which Foxconn hasn’t supported, Wisconsin taxpayers are totally screwed.

Thanks to Walker and his Republicans, almost 15 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy farms aren’t milking or have disappeared. Despite oversupply, Walker tried to beat California in milk production and dropped milk prices by over 25 percent. Other losses included less immigrant farm labor and DDT’s trade war.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

 

April 5, 2019

DDT: Week 115 – ‘Zombie’ News Stories

Highlighted with flip-flops from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), new revelations, and retribution, the past week has seen a number of stories that just won’t go away—executions, health care, the southern border, the Barr Report, and more.

Texas determined that people being legally executed will not be permitted to have the company of a spiritual adviser during their last moments after the Supreme Court ruled that Patrick Henry Murphy should be permitted the company of his spiritual adviser, a Buddhist. Murphy, however, can still have his spiritual adviser present because the supreme Court made this decision. The Texas death penalty killed half those executed last year.

Boeing finally admitted that the fault lies with the manufacturer in the problems with its 737 MAX 8 with a report that the Ethiopian Airlines crew followed Boeing recommendations but could still not save the jet from its March 10 crash that killed all 157 people on board. The plane’s uncontrollable dive, like that of Lion Air’s plane with another 189 deaths, was caused by a faulty angle-of-attack sensor. A defective sensor in the earlier crash was replaced, but the replacement may also have been defective. An internal review by engineers not connected to the MAX has pushed back Boeing’s fixes to the software by several weeks. The delay could mean months before the aircraft flies again, and sales have been indefinitely delayed.

The Air Force, also concerned about Boeing’s competency, again refused to accept the manufacturer’s KC-46 Pegasus tankers “because of foreign object debris we found in some closed compartments,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said. The tankers were due in 2017, but the Air Force didn’t get its first one until January 2019. The second decision to stop accepting the plans occurred on March 23. Boeing has paid the government over $3 billion for delays and cost overruns. Congress approved $2.4 billion for 25 jets this year, and the Air Force has requested another $2.3 billion for 12 KC-46 tankers in fiscal 2020.

Last week, DDT loved a judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act should be overturned and told his DOJ to support the decision in court. For a week, the panicked GOP tried to talk him out of the idea, terrified that more Democrats could win in Congress with the support of the ACA. After DDT was unable to convince people that he had a “beautiful” new healthcare plan, he gave up—until 2021 following the 2020 presidential election. No matter what Republicans say, surveys show that a majority of people like “Obamacare” when polled on its name and an even larger percentage like its benefits to them such no discrimination against them from pre-existing conditions and caps on payouts. [Visual – healthcare]

Congress and DDT battled throughout last week with each telling the other to write the bill and DDT going farther to tout a proposed bill that didn’t exist. In getting rid of healthcare insurance for tens of millions of people, DDT announced that the Republican Party “will soon be known as the party of health care.” DDT finally caved in when Senate Majority Leader told him that the chamber would not work on any replacement for ACA. A day later, less than a week after DDT  tweeted that placement legislation was “moving forward,” he tweeted that he had never intended to repeal ACA at this time:

“I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful HealthCare package that some very talented people are now developing for me & the Republican Party.”

Polling shows why DDT would put off overturning the ACA.  Fifty-four percent of respondents said that they have a lot or some trust in Democratic lawmakers to protect or improve health care compared to 41 percent who prefer Republicans. A strong majority—59 percent—have little or no trust in DDT regarding health care.

The border was another place for DDT’s backtracking. Last week, he said he would close large parts of the southern border, before changing the terminology to “all” the border. Despite warnings that this action would cost $1.5 billion in trade each day—not to count the disappearance of avocados in three weeks—he stuck to his guns by claiming that security is far more important than the economy. The next day he said that Congress could solve the problem of asylum-seekers in 45 minutes. Get rid of all the judges, he suggested.

By yesterday, he decided he would wait a year to close the border so that Mexico could stop the flow of drugs, DDT’s claim for his reasons to stop asylum-seekers. There seems to be a theme of “wait” for DDT’s changes in “policy.” He explained his flip-flop by saying that Mexico had been doing a good job “the last three or four days.” First, he plans to “put the tariffs on the cars” before closing the border, but hours later he denied that he said the border would stay open for a year.

This afternoon, DDT took a few GOP House members on a short tour of border replacement barriers at Calexico that he calls a “new wall.” He talked about the California politicians complaining about forest fires but did praise the new “anti-climb” wall that “looks fantastic—very see-through.” Calexico, about 40,000 population, is considered a “suburb” of Mexicali, capital Mexico’s state of Baja California, that sends many of its 1.5 million population to the U.S. to shop and work. Instead of security needs, Calexico identifies its serious problems from a polluted river and air plus other health issues such as high obesity and diabetes rates. DDT had a good reason for picking Calexico to talk about the wall: it’s a short trip to his California golf club outside Los Angeles. That’s where DDT headed after a couple of hours at Calexico to look at the wall that President Obama initiated.

House Democrats have filed a lawsuit against DDT’s unconstitutionally taking money for his wall. The suit names Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the departments they oversee. Democrats are using the same position as Republicans who argued that officials couldn’t use federal funds without appropriations. That case tried to eliminate the ACA by not paying insurers. In another lawsuit, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, and 20 states are suing DDT because he tried to use a national emergency to override the congressional refusal to allot him the funding that he demanded. The filing requested a preliminary injunction because of DDT’s “disregard of the will of Congress and violation of fundamental separation of powers principles.” They declare standing because DDT will remove fund from state projects to build his wall. DDT’s declaration resulted in at least five separate lawsuits; the DOJ claims that at least two of them “raise political questions that courts are not equipped to answer.”

The Barr Report is a story that won’t go away for a long time. For almost two years, Robert Mueller meticulously investigated people involved with DDT and their Russian connections before submitting his report to DDT’s lapdog DOJ AG Bill Barr along with summaries for the public. Stephen Colbert’s description of Barr’s four-page “summary” of Mueller’s work:

“That’s like tuning in to see the new season of ‘Game of Thrones,’ and it’s just Barr holding a sign that says, ‘Dragons did some stuff. The end.’”

After more than a week of listening to DDT and other conservatives crowing about the exoneration of DDT by the Mueller investigation, leaks reveal that members of Mueller’s team complained that they had discovered significant and alarming evidence about DDT’s obstruction while he has been in office that Barr excluded from his brief comments. Team members also indicated that information in Mueller’s report is far more damning than the four-page Barr Report reveals.

DDT’s meltdown since Barr released his first statement about the Mueller report hints at DDT’s slow discovery that life might not be as rosy as he hoped. At first, DDT cheered Barr’s report and supporting the release of the complete Mueller report. Then he said he would give Barr the decision whether to release it. A week ago, DDT said “I have nothing to hide.” Four days ago, he complained that “NOTHING WILL EVER SATISY” Democrats, indicating that he doesn’t want them to see the full report.  His earlier “Let the people see” has disappeared. To repeat millions of GOP responses to hiding the Mueller report, why hide the report if it doesn’t damage DDT.

The House Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena the unredacted Mueller report if Barr refuses to give it to them, and Chair Jerry Nadler requested all communication documents between Mueller’s office and the DOJ about the report. Meanwhile GOP senators have five times blocked a vote to release the Mueller report after a bill to do so passed the House by 420-0. Their reasons indicate they hope to protect DDT.

More disastrous news tomorrow about DDT’s tax returns, clearances for family and friends, GOP votes against him as well as fallouts from his decisions in Part II.

March 28, 2019

Boeing Crashes, Tries to Recover

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:26 AM
Tags: , , ,

The problems that Boeing has consistently had with its new 737 MAX 8 since it came on the market flew mostly under the radar because of media obsession with the shutdown and the impending release of the Mueller investigation report. But public notice has grown exponentially since the plane model killed 189 people in the Java Sea and seemed to come to a head with the 157 dead in Ethiopia just weeks ago.  The last country to ground that model, the U.S., waited three days until public pressure caused Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claimed that he was personally taking that action for “psychological” reasons.

The danger of the model is more than psychological as two Southwest pilots made an emergency landing soon after takeoff from Orlando International Airport while moving one of the grounded fleet to Victorville (CA). No passengers were aboard. Pilots reported “a performance issue with one of the engines.” Previous concerns about the plane had been with the automated anti-stall system, not the engine. The “safety” feature forces the nose of the plane lower if automation predicts the plan may stall. This experience supports early warnings from pilots before the crashes who expressed concerns about the plane model’s flaws.

Recently, pilots simulating problems with the first deadly flight discovered they had less than 40 seconds to override the Boeing’s automated system after one sensor failed and triggered the software to prevent a stall. Without the override, the system couldn’t be disengaged to stop the unrecoverable nose dive. The pilots doing the simulation, however, had been given training and background of the software problems, which made the issues expected.With limited training before the actual flights, pilots lacked the time; the Lion Air flight captain searched a technical manual to find the cause of the dive.  No one at a meeting discussing upgrades to the software addressed when the plane was equipped with such flaws.

Boeing does have two safety features for the cockpit, but they charged extra for them. Because they weren’t required, many airlines chose not to buy them. The FAA required neither of these features. Boeing will make one of them standard, but not the option of angle of attack indicator. The FAA also does not mandate other “optional” safety features such as backup fire extinguishers in the cargo hold. Boeing does not provide the complete list of optional safety features for the MAX or their cost. One of these, however, was $6,700 additional for the crew’s oxygen masks.

Last fall, Dominic Gates, aerospace reporter for the Seattle Times, wrote about the problems with the MAX 8 until he sent requests for comment to Boeing and the FAA about the flawed safety assessment on March 6. Boeing said it would work on getting answers, and four days later, 157 people were killed when the same model of plane crashed in Ethiopia. Boeing minimized the control of the system in flight and didn’t explain the influence on the system’s behavior by the pilot’s actions. The FAA permitted Boeing to make the decision that pilots didn’t need training on the new flight control system or mention that information in flight manuals.

Both congressional chambers have begun hearings into the plane crashes—the Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee led by Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the House Transportation and Infrastructure chaired by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). One issue examined is a 2003 law allowing the FAA to give companies authority to issue certification in lieu of the FAA. Boeing has this permission, and DeFazio said he wants the FAA to have opinions from outside experts before allowing the 737 MAX planes to again take to the skies. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) plans to introduce legislation reforming the delegation system which “is so fatally riddled with flaws.” The company spent more than $70 million on lobbying legislators since 2015, and Cruz is the #1 recipient.

FAA justified their relinquishment by claiming it would save the aviation industry approximately $25 billion from 2006 to 2015. Airworthiness representatives, perhaps working for the manufacturer, were responsible for deciding whether to ground an aircraft for safety concerns. The situation became worse after the 2016 presidential election with the close friendship between DDT and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg. The FAA should have made the decision to ground the planes, but DDT took the lead to sound important. He only backed off after criticism of waiting too long. On the day that the U.S. grounded the Max 8, acting FAA director Dan Elwell said that the FAA’s decisions on the Boeing was made “in constant consultation” with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the wife of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who is up for re-election next year.

The DOJ have issued several subpoenas in an investigation into Boeing’s FAA certification and marketing of the MAX, seeking information on safety and certification procedures, training manuals for pilots, and aircraft marketing. Although the Air Force doesn’t fly the MAX, its chief of staff ordered a review of training procedures for military pilots of large cargo and transport planes, including Air Force One, to ensure that military pilots are trained in handling emergency procedures and automated pilot systems.

The creation of the MAX came in 2011 from competitive pressure by Airbus, the world’s other major aircraft manufacturer, in bidding for American Airlines. Boeing’s frenetic pace to build the plan resulted in sloppy blueprints, and internal assembly designs for the MAX still have omissions such as no information about which tools to install specific tires leading to faulty connections. A requirement for engineers was to limit changes for an earlier plane model so that pilots won’t have to be trained in a flight simulator to fly the MAX. A team wanted to redesign the information layout giving pilots more data easier to read, the they couldn’t because of the no new pilot training requirement. The alternative was decades-old gauges to avoid costs.

The need to refit the older model with larger engines in competition with Airbus altered the plane’s aerodynamics, causing it to sometimes pitch up. That change led to software that forced the nose down, a change that Boeing didn’t bother explain to pilots who weren’t required to train in simulators. Boeing was also not accustomed to the new push for automation because pilots had been more in control of the plane in the past.

Boeing engineers who worked on the MAX are devastated by the crashes, and the company has offered them trauma counseling. At the same time, airlines are reconsidering their orders and asking for compensation.

In the past 20 years, Boeing donations have concentrated on members of the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees responsible for the allocation of federal defense money and more recently on Republicans because they controlled Congress. Other major Boeing focuses were their tax cuts and weakening the Clean Air Act. The company got $1.1 billion from the tax cuts, putting much of into buying its stock. Boeing represents 11 percent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Recent years have seen much greater Boeing donations to PACs, including the “Senate Leadership Fund.”

In the last decade, Boeing has hired 19 officials from the Department of Defense as well as former congressional aides and executive branch officials while DDT took Elwell and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan from Boeing. Shanahan has disparaged Boeing’s competitors, such as Lockheed Martin, and promoted his former employer. After an ethics complaint, the Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating Shanahan’s actions.

Desperate because of its losses, Boeing has just announced that the fixes—that it said could take until the end of April—are finished. The originally optional warning system at an extra charge will be standard, but Boeing claims that this is not an admission of responsibility for crashes. It will also upgrade the software that made the plane nose dive by disabling the feature if sensors get conflicting information. The new plans also include training pilots instead of asking them to watch a video.

Ten Boeing blunders resulting in a nose dive: inadequate of pilots’ training; incomprehensive flying manual; excessive automation; regulatory laxity and incompetence; flawed safety analysis; design flaw; delays in issuing a software update; putting profits before lives; assumptions; and turning standard safety features into extras. The company recovered from four crashes of its 727 in the 1960s, but that was before the rapid communication on the internet. And the FAA has a long way to go to regain its reputation of supporting safety.

When the Ethiopian plane crashed, over 300 MAX airplanes were in operation with 5,000 more on order. The president is quick to say he is acting first on behalf of the safety of the American people. That is unless it interferes with American business.

June 29, 2013

Gregory Accuses Journalist of ‘Aiding and Abetting’

When Tim Russert was the host of NBC’s Sunday morning political show, Meet the Press, he was so respected that the network added his name to the name of the program. Moved from chief of the NBC News’ Washington bureau to take this leadership in 1991,Russert moved the program’s length from 30 minutes to an hour and initiated in-depth interviews following his extensive research. Russert used old quotes or film clips inconsistent with the guests’ more current statements and then ask them to clarify their positions. In 2008, the year he died, Time named Russert one of the most 100 influential people in the world.

After his death, the respected Tom Brokaw acted as an interim appointment before David Gregory became the permanent host. His conservative bias was obvious from the beginning when he interviewed Mark Sanford, the South Carolina governor just come back from Argentina, that he called the Appalachian Trail. The media had been clear about his lying to the state and disappearing without leaving anyone in charge. Gregory promised Sanford that his coming on his new show “puts all of this to rest” because “it allows [Sanford] to frame the conversation how [he] really wants to … and then move on.”

I confess that I watch Meet the Press because the re-run is at 11:00 Sunday night, and it puts me to sleep. Yet he frequently annoys me, for example when he gives Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) a pass for his creating scandals just to bring down the president. Last Sunday, Gregory brought a great deal of well-deserved criticism down on him for his question at the end of an interview with Glenn Greenwald.

After discussing Greenwald’s involvement with Edward Snowden, the man declared either a hero or a traitor for telling the world that NSA is collecting metadata on all U.S. citizens, Gregory finished with this question: “To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?”

Greenwald replied that it was “pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” and that there was no evidence to back up Gregory’s claim that he had “aided” Snowden. Gregory replied that “the question of who’s a journalist may be up to a debate with regard to what you’re doing,”

Frank Rich, respected investigative reporter and writer for The New York Times for almost three decades shredded Gregory and his accusations.

“Is David Gregory a journalist? As a thought experiment, name one piece of news he has broken, one beat he’s covered with distinction, and any memorable interviews he’s conducted that were not with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin, or Chuck Schumer. Meet the Press has fallen behind CBS’s Face the Nation, much as Today has fallen to ABC’s Good Morning America, and my guess is that Gregory didn’t mean to sound like Joe McCarthy (with a splash of the oiliness of Roy Cohn) but was only playing the part to make some noise. In any case, his charge is preposterous.

“As a columnist who published Edward Snowden’s leaks, Greenwald was doing the job of a journalist–and the fact that he’s an ‘activist’ journalist (i.e., an opinion journalist, like me and a zillion others) is irrelevant to that journalistic function. If Gregory had integrity and guts, he would have added that the journalist Barton Gellman of the Washington Post, who published the other set of Snowden leaks (and arguably more important ones), aided and abetted a crime. But it’s easier for Gregory to go after Greenwald, a self-professed outsider who is not likely to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and works for a news organization based in London.

“Presumably if Gregory had been around 40 years ago, he also would have accused the Times of aiding and abetting the enemy when it published Daniel Ellsberg’s massive leak of the Pentagon Papers. In any case, Greenwald demolished Gregory on air and on Twitter (“Who needs the government to try to criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?”). The new, incoming leadership of NBC News has a golden opportunity to revamp Sunday morning chat by making a change at Meet the Press. I propose that Gregory be full-time on Today, where he can speak truth to power by grilling Paula Deen.”

Activist Carl Gibson asked why there should be reporters if those who report on leaked government secrets are labeled as criminals. As all of us know, the drive to sell advertising has overcome much of news reporting, but even worse, corporations own almost all the media now.

Follow the money. Meet the Press is sponsored by Boeing, that owns NSA contractor Narus, an Israeli company that makes the rapid interception technology used by the NSA. Boeing is also a member of the corporate coalition for “Fix the Debt,” a sham organization funded by Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson. That organization hope to destroy Social Security and Medicare, which may explain why Gregory has framed the decimation of those two programs as the best way to deal with the country’s debt. Gregory has never mentioned that companies like Boeing pay a “negative” federal income tax.

When journalists discovered that the Obama administration had seized phone records of AP reporters without their knowledge, fellow journalists were incensed. Yet Gregory has joined the intimidation of journalists by asking Greenwald if he is a criminal.

David Sirota on Salon asked more questions. Mother Jones’ David Corn asked why Gregory had not addressed the same question to reporters at the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg News after they, too, publicized similar leaks.

Trevor Trimm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation asked if Gregory himself should be prosecuted because “when interviewing Greenwald, he repeated what government officials told him about classified FISA opinions.”

A year ago, the New York Times’ Jo Becker and Scott Shane published an article about President Obama’s so-called “kill list” based on leaks of classified information by White House officials. Also an Inspector General report documented then-CIA director Leon Panetta’s possibly illegal release of top secret information to filmmaker Mark Boal for the film Zero Dark Thirty. Should Gregory ask whether the authors of these if they “should be charged with a crime” for publishing secret information?

After National Intelligence James Clapper and NSA Chief Keith Alexander lied in their testimony before Congress, should they be prosecuted for perjury in the same way that major league pitcher Roger Clemens was?

Since the time that Daniel Ellsberg revealed information and now, when Edward Snowden did the same thing, the White House has declared war on any people who tell the public about its covert—and possibly—illegal surveillance. Why has the media transferred its obsessive attention to where Snowden might be at any time instead of the NSA’s crimes against millions of people in the United States. Why do media outlets view the NSA’s actions being legal when they “intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress,” according to the New York Times?

Speaking about Snowden to Jay Leno on his show, Gregory said:

 “You know, there are people who give him credit for sort of forcing this debate out into the country. I think it’s deeply disturbing when someone takes it upon him or herself to decide they’re uncomfortable with some program and they decide they want to undo a government program. I don’t think that’s what the founders of the country envisioned and it’s not a real way to do that.”

I tend to be suspicious of people who channel the “founders of the country,” but it might be useful to read a few of their statements:

 “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”—James Madison

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”—Benjamin Franklin

In the Washington Post, Eric Wemple wrote about the 2001 case Bartnicki v. Vopper in which the Supreme Court ruled that an illegal recording or great public consequence that a media outlet had only received but not participated in the recording of, was protected by the First Amendment. Greenwald did not aid and abet Snowden in obtaining the information or ask him to break the law. Gregory didn’t do his homework when he slandered Greenwald by his accusation that the journalist had “aided and abetted Snowden.”

I’ll watch Meet the Press tomorrow because both Rachel Maddow and Wendy Davis, the woman who filibustered the Texas Senate for almost 12 hours last week, will be on. But also on is Jim DeMint, new leader of the Heritage Foundation ultra-conservative political organization. Hopefully, Gregory won’t decide to pander to DeMint and declare Davis a terrorist the way that one of her GOP colleagues did.

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