Nel's New Day

July 29, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Seven – ‘A Jackass’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) outdid himself this week in outrageous drama. Tuesday was the disastrous speech at the National Scout Jamboree, Wednesday witnessed the backlash against his anti-transgender military service members, Thursday was the failure of the third health bill up for a vote this week, and Friday presented the changing of the guard at the White House. Then he topped the week with a speech asking police to injure suspects. He received applause from law enforcement officers on Long Island (NY) by saying, “Please don’t be nice.” He added in reference to protecting suspects’ heads while putting them into a vehicle, “You can take the hand away, okay?” The International Association of Police Chiefs (IAPC) responded with detailed information its use-of-force policies and training as well as the need for officers to “ensure that any use of force is carefully applied and objectively reasonable.” The IAPC added that officers are trained to treat all individuals “with dignity and respect.” Police departments in the U.S. also rejected DDT’s message of physically hurting suspects.

DDT got his “general”: Reince Priebus is out as Chief of Staff, and John Kelly, formerly Homeland Security Secretary, is in. Once again, DDT proved that loyalty has no value. Major questions surfaced about what changes, if any, the White House would see with the shift. Until now, key people—white supremacist Steve Bannon, “Communications Director” Anthony Scaramucci, and family members Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump—have bypassed the chief of staff to directly communicate with DDT. The tweets have poured out of DDT’s cellphone with no monitoring. Kelly can stop these practices (highly unlikely), leave if he fails (two months maybe?), or put up with DDT’s behavior and become another laughingstock (totally improbable).

A major question is what to do with “The Mooch” Scaramucci who spread his vile emissions throughout the week. On his sixth day as sort-of Communications Director, he falsely accused then White House chief of staff of a felony for leaking a public document listing his worth of $85 million, claimed he had inappropriately spoken with the Justice Department, threatened to “kill all the leakers,” delivered scatological criticisms about White House staff on the record to a New Yorker writer, and generally followed the toxic culture surrounding DDT. The NYT reported how the DDT White House is “driven by ambition, fear, animosity and envy.”

Scaramucci hasn’t been technically hired; his company, Skybridge, is under regulatory review with the Treasury Department in a committee that includes Defense, State, Commerce, and Homeland Security Departments. Success would bring the Mooch $77 million. With the same passion for revenge as DDT, Scaramucci was determined to destroy Priebus after he kept the Mooch from being public liaison officer and gave him grief over selling his company at an inflated price to China, possibly for U.S. favors to China. Evidently there’s proof for Priebus’ claim.

Even highly conservative pundit Bill Kristol was furious about DDT’s terrible speech to the Boy Scouts:

“What a jackass you have to be to speak to the Boy Scouts and attack your predecessor as President of the United States.”

Today’s tweets from DDT support Kristol’s description. He blamed the Republicans for the failure of the health care last Thursday and told them that they will continue to fail with the filibuster requiring 60 votes. Yet the health care failed 51 to 49 with two women GOP senators, Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) voting no before Jon McCain (AZ) joined them. Following that series of tweets, he demanded that the senate make another try at passing Trumpcare and made threats:

“If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

That was followed by his lambasting China for not helping the United States against North Korea. DDT also took total credit for winning the presidency. And he has another day without keepers.

Six days ago, DDT blamed the Republicans for their lack of support:

“It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.”

Senators are openly opposing DDT’s persecution of Jeff Sessions and the possibility that DDT would fire the attorney general to stop the investigation into his Russian collusion. Wednesday, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted:

“Everybody in D.C. Shld b warned that the agenda for the judiciary Comm is set for rest of 2017. Judges first subcabinet 2nd / AG no way.”

The next day Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.” He added, “Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency – unless Mueller did something wrong. Right now I have no reason to believe he’s compromised.”

One of DDT’s attacks on Sessions is totally without merit. He accused the AG of taking “a very weak position” in investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails. Yet Sessions had announced during his confirmation hearings that he was recusing himself of all issues about Clinton. DDT could have blocked Sessions’ hiring at that time.

Brian A. Benczkowski, a recent DDT nominee to lead DOJ’s criminal division, told the Senate that he represented Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest financial institutions with ties to Vladimir Putin. Computer experts investigated communications between the bank and a Trump Organization server. The bank claims a clean bill of health although these investigations were cursory. A possible connection with Russia could require anyone to recuse themselves from cases, a situation causing DDT to say that he should not have nominated AG Jeff Sessions.

The failure of Trumpcare on Thursday took place on the 52nd anniversary of the senate’s passing Medicaid and Medicaid. Fifty-two years ago, then-Rep. Arch Moore (R-WV) voted in favor of these popular programs. Yet his daughter, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), voted in favor of Trumpcare that would negatively impact almost one-third of her constituency. Like other Republicans, Capito believed promises that she would get money for her state, in her case to fight opioid abuse, and that the bill she voted in favor of would never become law. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had said that he was “willing” to “talk” about taking the bill to conference with the House if it passed the senate.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Bill Miller, a top official in that department after DDT fired Gregory Starr in January, has quit. The senate will need to confirm his replacement. Only two State Department officials have been confirmed, and another six are waiting for confirmation.  That leaves 41 other senior roles, including policy leads for different regions, unfilled and another 31 filled by people in acting roles. Two more will soon be empty. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won’t be filling them until he reviews and reorganizes the agency. Rumors that Tillerson is quitting have been rife, but he denies them.

DDT mistakenly thanked Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, his guest at the White House on Wednesday, for fighting Hezbollah that has a power base in Hariri’s cabinet. DDT said:

“Hezbollah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people and the entire region. The group continues to increase its military arsenal which threatens to start yet another conflict with Israel. With the support of Iran, the organization is also fueling humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.”

Then DDT said he would be making a decision about U.S. sanctions by Wednesday, but Congress just started considering any sanctions regarding Lebanon a week ago.

At the time of his inauguration, DDT threatened to steal oil from Iraq. Now he is considering “relieving” Afghanistan of raw-earth minerals that could be worth $1 trillion.

Russia seemed to be on the back burner this week because of the distractions and the health care fiasco. Congress did pass a bill increasing sanctions on Russia and removing some power from DDT to change the sanctions. He spent several days deciding whether to sign it but finally said that he will accept it. With a senate vote of 98-2 and a House vote of 419-3, the bill seems to be veto proof.

Jared Kushner managed to avoid public testimony before a congressional committee by supposedly turning over documents, but New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, who also published the story about Scaramucci’s vulgar rhetoric, has an article about Jared Kushner’s involvement with the Russian collusion. Records from DDT’s son-in-law also shows his app that disappears messages sent to him as does DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.  Kushner downloaded the app four days before his father-in-law was inaugurated. Destroying any communication with a president violates the Presidential Records Act.

In November 2013, DDT tweeted:

“Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.”

This position is far different from what he exhibited in the past week–and in the past six months.


January 30, 2013

GOP, BSA Worried about Losses

Whenever I travel, I pick up any newspaper I can find. Yesterday on my way home from Seattle, I read USA Today, with these large-print headlines: “Boy Scouts May Welcome Gays” and “Next Fight: Amnesty.” Both subjects show that the conservatives are getting nervous. The Republicans are afraid that they won’t get enough votes in the next election, and the BSA is afraid it won’t get enough money. For the former, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was very open about his part in immigration reform: “Elections. Elections. The Republican Party is losing the support of Hispanic citizens.”

In addressing their concerns about undocumented immigrants, the GOP isn’t afraid to ignore popular opinion on gun violence, taxes, education, and energy, but they want the Hispanic voters back.

Toward that end, four GOP senators have joined four Democratic senators to present a proposal designed to legalize many undocumented people: Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).  The GOP likes to refer to the plan as Rubio’s and ignore the fact that this position copies President Obama’s 2011 proposal. McCain was behind a comprehensive reform package in 2007 before he had to oppose his own plan—that he now again accepts—in order to get conservative support for his failed presidential campaign.

Basically most immigrants could apply for permanent residency but only after the U.S. puts much more funding into border “security measures.” The favored ones in the plan are those more highly skilled and those who work in agriculture, in other words, people who the senators find most useful.

A sticky issue is “securing the border” because this is only a plan with no specifics. McCain defined it this way: “I’ll know it when I see it.” Does this mean more money? More goals? If so, what numbers? The U.S. border patrol’s budget has doubled to over $3.5 billion in little more than a decade while the number of Southwest patrol agents has gone from 3,555 to 18,506 in just two decades. The costs of paying back taxes, fines, and green card fines would also be so exorbitant, up to 50 percent of their income which is on average under $40,000, that people could not afford the government’s requirements.

The next question is whether the GOP can find the votes on legislation. Without them, the GOP could be in worse shape for votes in 2012 when they want the Latino vote. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) is one example of legislators who will obstruct immigration reform. This is his statement after the senators released their proposal:

“Anyone who believes that they’re going to win over the Latino vote is grossly mistaken. The majority that are here illegally are low-skilled or may not even have a high school diploma. The Republican Party is not going to compete over who can give more social programs out. [Latinos] will become Democrats because of the social programs they’ll depend on.”

At least Barletta used the term “Latinos.” Jeb Bush is co-chairing an Hispanic GOP advocacy group attempting to teach Republicans in Congress to use “tonally sensitive” language. Hispanic Leadership Network Executive Director Jennifer Korn sent GOP members a memo that some of these directions:

  • Don’t use phrases like “send them all back,” “electric fence,” and “build a wall along the entire border.”
  • Don’t characterize all Hispanics as undocumented and all undocumented as Hispanics.
  • Avoid using terms like “illegals,” “aliens,” and “anchor babies.”
  • Don’t begin with “We are against amnesty.”

The memo, however, doesn’t address the way that the Senate proposal ignores the existence of bi-national LGBT couples separated because the federal government refuses to recognize them as legally married. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called these couples a “red flag” for Republicans and “not of paramount importance” to immigration reform efforts.” President Obama takes a different approach. His proposal “treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.”

Because of the tens of thousands of these couples, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) is reintroducing “the Reuniting Families Act, a bill that reunites families by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses, children, and same-sex, bi-national partners as “immediate relatives,” and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration. This legislation will reduce visa backlog and relieve families from prolonged and unnecessary separation and heartache.”

Loss of money—and in some cases outright rebellion from some troops—has led the BSA leadership to reconsider its refusal to allow any participation in BSA of LGBT scouts or leaders. Just seven months ago, they flatly said, “No!” to this. During that time, about 50 local United Way groups joined several high-powered corporations and charities to stop giving to BSA because its ban violates the non-discrimination requirements. Other organizations also promised to also withdraw their support. In addition, collected over 1.2 million signatures protesting the LGBT ban.

BSA spokesman Deron Smith said that local sponsoring organizations might be free to decide their own policies regarding LGBT inclusion in its over 290 local councils governing more than 116,000 local organizations. This statement came just days after Pack 442 of Cloverly (MD) decided to drop its non-discrimination statement after its council threatened them with removing their charter.

As might be expected, the religious right is riled. American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer said that Jerry Sandusky-like pedophiles could become troop leaders. Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said that the inclusion of openly gay members undermines “the well-being of the boys under their care.”

Like another blog writer, Michael Hulshof-Schmidt, I question whether BSA leadership will go through with this or whether the BSA will still exert control to ban LGBT people from the scouts. If the shift does occur, however, it could be at a national board meeting next week. Another group protesting BSA bans are the atheists. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said, “I would hope [the BSA] remove the rest of the bigotry and admit atheists as well.”

Another major story during the past week is the decision to allow women to serve in combat roles. The discussion since that act has been predictable: it’s a great idea, or women don’t belong there because they’re not strong and they invite sex from the men. The most remarkable quote came from Kingsley Browne during an interview by Samantha Bee on The Daily Show: “girls become women by becoming older; boys become men by actually accomplishing something.” I also appreciated Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s (R-IL) statement about having already been in combat: “I didn’t lose these legs in a bar fight.” No, she lost them as a helicopter pilot in Iraq.

Also the filibuster fight disappeared in a whimper. For the pros and cons of the Senate rules agreement, most of which I don’t understand, you can go to Daily Kos. With the loss of former Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), now Secretary of State, and the decisions of Sens. Tom Harkins (D-IA) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) not to run in 2014, the Democrats may appreciate that they can stop Senate action as easily as the GOP has done.


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