Nel's New Day

September 30, 2021

Week of the Shutdown That Didn’t Happen

Without legislation, the U.A. was scheduled to shut down tomorrow, and the nation will stop paying its debts incurred in past administrations on October 18. GOP senators, led by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wanted it to happen.

Monday: After McConnell told the world that Democrats should govern, he led Republicans in filibustering bills to pass a budget and raise the debt ceiling, requiring ten GOP votes for Democrats to pass the measures. GOP leaders supported all the provisions—stop a government shutdown, extend the debt ceiling, and fund both disaster relief and Afghan resettlement. They agreed defaulting on debts and shutting down the government would be a disaster for everyone. Yet “nay” votes from Louisiana’s GOP senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy blocked $70 billion to $80 billion of disaster relief for their state for hurricane recovery. Republicans filibustered everything while telling Democrats they have to extend the debt ceiling on their own. McConnell accused Democrats of forcing “one self-created crisis after another” on the nation and questioned whether they “actually want to govern.” Gaslighting: to “psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity.”

Tuesday: Democrats tried a bill to fund the government until December and raise the debt ceiling. Republicans filibustered it. McConnell wants people to believe raising the debt ceiling makes Democrats big spenders, but it only pays past debts—27 percent of the national debt caused by the GOP and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). During DDT’s four years, Republicans voted three times to raise the debt ceiling while adding $7.8 trillion to the national debt.

Wednesday: The House passed a bill by 219-121 to suspend the debt ceiling, but GOP senators promised to reject the legislation. All House Democrats except Jared Golden (CO) and Kurt Schrader (OR) supported the bill; Adam Kinzinger (IL) was the only Republican to vote in favor. Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), who joined Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in consistently opposing Biden’s agenda, put her rudeness front and center when NBC’s Frank Thorp asked for her response to progressives “frustrated they don’t know where you are.” She answered, “I’m in the Senate.” When the question was repeated, Sinema said, “I’m clearly right in front of the elevator.” Even before this stunt, she polled at 17 percent approval among Democrats and 27 percent with unaffiliated voters. 

Thursday: Thanks to Democrats, the federal government won’t go into shutdown tomorrow as Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep existing spending until December 3, the deadline for another CR or approval of a dozen appropriations bills to fund the government through the 2022 fiscal year. The bill also includes billions of dollars for disaster relief, mostly for red states, from two recent hurricanes and more funds for resettling Afghanistan refugees. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) permitted GOP amendments, including one which would have blocked funding for Biden’s vaccine requirements for businesses over 50 employees. It failed. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Republicans still refused to vote on raising the debt ceiling; without that law, the U.S. stops paying its debts on October 18.

Republicans have held the nation hostage, saying they should not have pay for Biden’s agenda by raising the debt ceiling. The GOP and DDT, however, were in charge of the most recent increase of $7.8 trillion owed by the U.S. after Republican tax cuts for the wealthy and big business along with other expenditures. Republicans only goal in refusing to pay their debts is the hope to win the next election.

Congress has raised or suspended the ceiling 78 times since 1960, most recently in 2019. Almost all these events have been with little drama although a decade ago, under the last Democratic president, the GOP Congress fought President Obama. Bond prices rose, the stock market lost stability, and Standard & Poor’s rating agency downgraded the U.S. AAA credit rating for the first time, costing $1.3 billion in one year. The Republicans are playing the same games with the current Democratic president, possibly increasing interest rates again which adds to the deficit and thus the national debt. According to Moody’s Analytics, the recessions from a default on the debt could lead up to six million jobs, an employment rate of almost nine percent, and the elimination of $15 trillion in household assets. 

Six years ago in a GOP dominated Congress, current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) wrote about raising the debt ceiling:

“When the United States makes promises, it keeps them, which is why the House voted today to avoid the threat of a debt default.”

That was when Republicans controlled the House. With Democratic control, he told Republicans to break their promises and not raise the debt ceiling.

Elsewhere, Republicans had busy weeks. South Dakota governor and presidential wannabe, Kristi Noem, dumped her campaign adviser, DDT’s associate from his campaigning and serving in the White House Corey Lewandowski. He had been traveling the nation to help lay the groundwork for her campaign in 2024 and helping Noem write speeches. Trashelle Odom accused him of sexually harassing her at a fundraising dinner and issued a statement that Lewandowski “touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful.” Her attorney also wrote that Noem texted Lewandowski during the dinner event “to stop touching [Mrs. Odom].” Noem couldn’t remember doing this. Odom’s husband, John Odom, threatened to withdraw their $100,000 donation if Lewandowski continued to head up the PAC.

Lewandowski was also fired from heading up the MAGA Action PAC and has been replaced by former Florida AG who rescued DDT from being sued for Trump University fraud. 

Noem also denied the claim on a conservative website she was having an affair with Lewandowski. She complained that it was a typical attack on “conservative women.”  

This publicity followed media reports about a review into Noem’s possible abuse of power last year regarding her daughter’s attempt to be a certified real estate appraiser. After the daughter, Kassidy Peters, was refused this certification, Noem summoned the state employee running the agency, the woman’s direct supervisor, and the labor secretary to her office. Noem’s daughter attended the meeting and Peters received the certification. The state labor secretary gave the agency head $200,000 to withdraw the complaint and retire. Noem’s spokesperson responded to questions by accusing the media source, AP, of “disparaging the governor’s daughter in order to attack the governor politically.”

Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota’s AG, is reviewing the case. Last year, Noem pressured Ravnsborg to resign after he hit and killed a man walking on a highway before leaving without reporting the accident. Ravnsborg pled no contest to two misdemeanors, and the legislature will decide whether to proceed with impeaching him when it convenes it in November. Both the legislature and the AG are Republicans.

Updates from this week’s blog posts:

At the age of 74, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) seems to have lost his memory. To pass Biden’s infrastructure agenda, the Democrats obtained an agreement for a two-track strategy, first voting for a smaller bill largely focusing on roads and bridges before moving on the safety-net-and-climate also giving jobs to people in the U.S. This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, “We had a deal.” Manchin agreed to the plan last summer; yesterday he claimed he never heard of it. Asked if he had been part of the deal, Manchin said, “Never.” In June, however, Manchin told NBC news, “It’s the only strategy we have—is two track.” On June 24, Manchin said, “There’s going to be a reconciliation bill,” referring to the second part of the plan. Now he wants to plan the first part, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF), and put the second part on the backburner—that’s probably turned off.

Before a scheduled House vote on the BIF today, Manchin said the plan was always to pass the first, fossil fuel-friendly bill before undermining the second one for clean energy and the social safety net. In June, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the chamber will not take up either infrastructure bill until the Senate passes both of them and persuaded all the reluctant House members in August to vote for the second bill’s blueprint. Tonight, she pulled the vote for the BIF because of dissension. In the Senate, Republicans like Utah’s Mitt Romney want to make changes for the larger infrastructure bill although they have no intention of voting for it.  

No one thought that Arizona’s fake ballot count was over, even with the release of the report. DDT got few votes in the state, the conspiracy-ridden “auditor” cried fraud in the election, and the sham’s supporter have turned on each other. From one set—”The deep state and the politically correct lawyers and RINOs of the GOP suppressed this.” That side has released a fake copy of the final report stating DDT won the “audit. The state’s GOP AG Mark Brnovich requested more documents from the GOP Senate and the Maricopa County officials, saying the report “raises some questions.” No explanation of what they are. Brnovich is running for the U.S. senate.

Current senator, Democratic Kyrsten Sinema, has leaned so far right that groups are beginning to collect money for primary challengers to her in 2024: a new PAC called Primary Sinema PAC, a crowdfunding campaign for a viable Democratic candidate, and Run Reuben Run to support Rep. Reuben Gallego.

And the Supreme Court partisan hacks go into session tomorrow.

July 18, 2021

Biden Quietly Moves Ahead for Six Months

President Joe Biden continues his accomplishments:

Throughout the U.S., 88 percent of families have received the first direct deposit for their children, $300 per child under the age of six and $250 for each child from 6 through 17. Previous tax credits excluded the poorest third of children because parents didn’t pay income taxes, but families making $400,000 would receive full payments. Now the poorest families receive the money, but the top limit is $150,000 for families. If everyone deserving the checks receives them, child poverty can be reduced by 40 percent—even more with stimulus checks. More details here.

Protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest include a ban on large-scale old-growth logging and road development on over nine million acres. Part of one of the world’s remaining relatively intact temperate rainforests has been the only national forest with industrial old-growth logging.

To eliminate a huge backlog of asylum cases, AG Merrick Garland reversed DDT’s immigration policy preventing immigration judges from closing low-priority cases and removing them from their dockets. Because of DDT, 1.3 million immigration cases wait to be heard in the U.S.

Garland also temporarily blocked executions of federal inmates, because of exonerations after death sentences and discrimination against minorities. He has directed a review of recent policy changes. After almost 20 years of no federal executions, DDT’s AG Bill Barr executed 13 people, more than in all 50 states combined.

The DOJ eliminated former AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to allow asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence in their home countries. Garland also vacated a decision during DDT’s term refusing asylum to a Mexican man targeted by cartel La Familia Michoacana because the man’s father refused to sell the cartel’s drugs in his store.

Biden plans to increase the U.S. annual refugee admissions cap of 62,500 for the current fiscal year to 125,000 next year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide gender-confirmation surgery through its health-care coverage by reversing a 2013 ban. According to the VA, fewer than 4,000 veterans would have this surgery although it is estimated that about 134,000 veterans are transgender. The VA is also changing the name from LGBT health program to LGBTQ+ Health Program for inclusiveness.

The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will provide $3.2 billion for clinical trials of antiviral medication treating COVID-19 and other potential epidemic viruses. Treatments, called protease inhibitors which inhibit an enzyme needed to replicate the virus in human cells, could be distributed by the end of 2021. Protease inhibitors are already used for HIV and hepatitis C.

Federal loans will be cancelled for 18,000 ITT Technical Institute students defrauded by the for-profit chain, shut down in 2016. During DDT’s term, 34,000 former students petitioned to cancel their debt under the “borrower defense to repayment” but were refused. ITT Tech consistently lied to students about their ability to transfer credit to other schools as well as about employment and earnings prospects after graduation.

Biden’s new executive order limits noncompete clauses designed to keep low wages by blocking tens of millions of private-sector employees from moving to better-paying jobs for any reason. These clauses, originally to keep employees from passing along corporate secrets, are now for even low-wage services with no justification. Another part of the sweeping order to open up “fair competition” tries to lower prescription drug prices and cracks down on internet service providers by promoting competition. Biden said:

“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans that means accepting a bad deal for things you can’t go without.”

Biden called for the return of net neutrality rules to block broadband companies from selectively blocking, slowing, or speeding up websites. He also called for greater scrutiny of mergers, including those already completed and “killer acquisitions,” the takeover of competitors showing potential.

Another Biden order permits independent repairs on devices and equipment, including electronics, and removes repair monopolies. It also directs federal agencies to create consumer- and worker-protecting rules across the broadband, agricultural, transportation, and technology industries. More than half the states have considered right-to-repair legislation, protecting rights for people to fix their own possessions.

Three million adults will not be removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and one million children will continue to have free school lunches. A judge had ruled against DDT’s changes, and ARPA expanded Snap benefits by 15 percent through September 2021.

Biden dropped DDT’s ban on apps TikTok and WeChat to conduct a review of apps tied to foreign adversaries.

The Defense Production Act Loan Program must guarantee its funds can be used only for direct Covid-19 response and medical-related supply chain projects after DDT used it as a military slush fund.

DDT’s war on so-called “sanctuary cities” is over after Biden repealed the former policy preventing federal funds from those areas.

At the end of DDT’s term, his Energy Department changed the limits on water flow so he could wash his “beautiful head of hair.” Biden reversed DDT’s rule, allowing the same limits established by the industry in 2013.

Last week, Senate Democrats announced an agreement on the $3.5 trillion budget during the next ten years. Federal resources will go into helping climate change, healthcare, and family-service programs. Assistance goes to the U.S. drought and fire crises, individuals, and the economy, ravaged by the pandemic, moving toward long-term growth. Part of the budget expands vision, hearing, and dental benefits for Medicare recipients.

Last week, Biden’s nominee for the Census Bureau, Robert Santos, testified before the Senate that has still not confirmed over 200 of Biden’s appointments. The abrupt departure of Steven Dillingham in January after complaints about his attempt to rush out an incomplete data report on noncitizens has left the position vacant since then. The bureau will release data by August 16 despite Alabama’s federal lawsuit about the bureau’s privacy protection plans which has been blocked by the court.

Biden can replace the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency overseeing mortgagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mark Calabria, appointed by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has been replaced by a deputy agency director Sandra Thompson as acting director. Calabria wanted to privatize the government agency that helps people to buy their homes and keeps mortgages low.

Biden also removed Rodney Scott, head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Earlier this year, Scott, a supporter of DDT who appointed him in all his policies including building the wall, refused to comply with Biden’s administration directive to stop using the term “illegal aliens” for undocumented immigrants. He claimed the Border Patrol would lose public trust if agents were forced to use terms “inconsistent with law.”

DDT’s Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul is also gone. DDT’s anti-union pick to curb benefits, 74-year-old Saul, was fired after he refused to resign. His DDT-appointed deputy, David Black, resigned upon request.  Saul delayed stimulus checks for millions of disabled people by trying to make them reestablish their eligibility for benefits. A former women’s apparel executive and current GOP donor, he served on a conservative think tank calling for Social Security cuts. Saul declared Biden couldn’t make him leave, but last year the Supreme Court ruled that the president can remove directors, for example that of the consumer Financial Protection bureau. When Saul wouldn’t leave, his access to agency computers was cut off in his Katonah (NY) home where he worked for 17 months. Saul’s acting replacement, Kilolo Kijakazi, is undoing Saul’s policies and planning the safe reopening of the department’s 1,200 field offices.

Biden has two infrastructure bills, a bipartisan agreement with enough GOP support to pass investing $579 billion in new spending for domestic needs and another one for “human infrastructure” from healthcare to housing to be passed through the reconciliation process like the ARPA Act last March. Originally, the former plan would be partially financed by enforcing IRS debts by the wealthy, but Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said the GOP doesn’t want to make rich people pay their owed income taxes, up to $1 trillion for the past year, according to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.    

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told his Senate GOP comrades to walk out and deny a quorum for the reconciliation bill. His tactic requires all 50 GOP senators to leave, and the departure of any one of them reduces the number necessary for a majority of the vote.

DDT’s White evangelical base is rapidly shrinking, according to the 2020 Census of American Religions, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year.

People are far more optimistic and happier now, according to a new Gallup poll: 59.2 percent say they’re thriving, and 73 percent said they experienced enjoyment for much of the previous day. The first is the highest since the poll began 13 years earlier, and the second is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic almost 18 months ago.

December 22, 2020

No Government Shutdown, Little Funding

The threat of the holiday 2020 government shutdown has been averted if Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) signs the $2.3 trillion budget bill. Included in the bill is $900 billion for coronavirus relief. Congress already passed the $741 billion defense bill which DDT has not yet signed and promised to veto. He has until Wednesday before it goes into law unless he vetoes it in that time.

The House passed the budget by 359-53, the Senate by 92-6. The White House said DDT will sign the measure. The six GOP senators voting against the bill: Marsha Blackburn (TN), Rand Paul (KY), Rick Scott (FL), Ron Johnson (WI), Mike Lee (UT), and Ted Cruz (TX).  

DDT has signed a one-week Continuing Resolution to give time for the budget’s paperwork preparation.   

Last May, the House passed a $3 billion stimulus bill; it passed another one for $2.2 trillion in October. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to go above $1.1 trillion but finally settled on $900 billion in his attempt to get two GOP incumbent senators re-elected in Georgia on January 5. Arguments about the contents of the bill included the inclusion of stimulus checks, extended unemployment, and assistance for state and local governments—all opposed by Republicans. The GOP wanted no liability for lack of safety from COVID-19 and the elimination of any programs to use money from the Treasury Department rainy-day fund to save the country from financial crisis. Republicans lost both of these as well as financial help for states. The 5,593-page measure probably has lots of mystery items because lawmakers had only a few hours to consider it. A few openers:

  • $1.375 billion for 56 miles of DDT’s border wall;
  • $5 million for a database to track police misconduct;
  • $153 million for programs to better community relations with police;
  • 3 percent pay raise for military;
  • 1 percent pay raise for the civilian federal workforce.

Critics have pointed out that the “stimulus” bill is quite skimpy, especially the direct aid: 

  • $166 billion: the federal unemployment insurance supplement of $300 a week, extended for 11 weeks;
  • $120 billion: direct aid checks of $600 a person making under $75,000;
  • $284 billion: forgivable loans for businesses paying for rent and workers;
  • $15 billion: live venues, movie theaters, and other entertainment;
  • [several billion]: other Small Business Administration programs;
  • $82 billion: colleges and schools with $54 billion going to public schools;
  • $69 billion: vaccines ($22 billion – testing and tracing, $20 billion – vaccine procurement, $9 billion – vaccine distribution);
  • $45 billion: transportation, including $15 billion for the airline industry;
  • $25 billion: rental assistance and an extension of the moratorium on evictions;
  • $20 billion: Economic Injury Disaster Loans;
  • $13 billion: food-assistance programs, increasing the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit by 15 percent;
  • $10 billion: childcare assistance.

States and cities have a full year to use funding from last March’s Cares Act bill. In another measure, health providers must work with insurers for a fair price in case of unexpectedly out-of-network care to avoid massive bills. Republicans get a tax break on “three-martini lunch” because Democrats wanted expanded tax credits for low income families and the working poor. DDT lobbied for that benefit. Lawmakers claim this bill is only a starter for help, but McConnell will almost surely not allow another one. The GOP firmly believes in austerity when a Democrat is president.

Oregon hit national news when about 300 heavily armed white supremacists, including Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, broke into the state capitol during a one-day special legislative session. The far-right protesters attacked police with spray chemical agents, broke glass in the doors, and tore tarps from vandalized marble reliefs on the front steps. Streets around the capitol were closed, and residents were told to avoid the area. DDT has gone silent about any protesters, including the Antifa, because of the white supremacists’ unprovoked attacks on people. [Left: a protester at the Oregon capitol.]

Arizona’s GOP Chair Kelli Ward wants DDT to “cross the Rubicon,” the illegal action Julius Caesar took to change the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire through civil war and require people to swear fealty to him and not their country.

Caught up in a conspiracy theory, air-conditioner installer David Lopez-Zuniga was going to work in a small cargo truck filled with parts last October when a SUV deliberately struck his truck and forced him to the edge of the highway. Feigning an injury, Mark Aguirre, a former Houston police officer who believed the truck had 750,000 fraudulent ballots, ordered Lopez Zuniga to the ground and pointed a gun at his head. Aguirre claimed “Hispanic children” were used to sign ballots because their fingerprints weren’t in any databases. Steven Hotze, head of a conservative nonprofit, hired Aguirre as one of 20 investigators looking into Texas ballot fraud—conspiracy theories fed by DDT and his court cases. Aguirre was fired from the Houston police force in 2003 for ordering the arrest of 300 people in a retail store parking lot, some of them shopping. He claimed drag racing, and the city paid almost $1 million to settle multiple lawsuits. Aguirre refused to say why he picked Lopez-Zuniga and called the charges a “political prosecution.”  

AG Bill Barr has until Wednesday in office, and he opposes special investigators for both Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, and election fraud. He also thinks DDT is wrong with his rejection that Russia is behind the current cyber espionage; he said the hacking “certainly appears” to be from the Kremlin. On Monday, DDT told a tea party conference he won in a landslide and wants the Justice Department to back him in overturning the election. Barr also said there is no reason for seizing voting machines, something Sidney Powell talked about with DDT Sunday at the White House. DDT’s campaign had fired Powell because of her history of false claims. 

Boeing’s 737 MAX is back in the air after being grounded for 21 months ago, but a bipartisan Senate report describes how the company and the FAA manipulated its recertification tests after the two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. Boeing “inappropriately coached” FAA test pilots for the airplane’s desirable outcome with some tests on simulators not equipped to recreate the same conditions as the crashes. The FAA also retaliated against whistleblowers, blocking the investigation, didn’t hold senior managers accountable, and permitted Southwest Airlines to operate dozens of falsely certified planes.

The post office is again failing to deliver packages on time. This time the reason is heavy e-commerce and COVID-19 infections/exposures among almost 20,000 employees. DDT’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotage of USPS delivery, especially of ballots, worsened the situation by trashing sorting machines and cutting back on overtime. Georgia’s election, with a deadline on January 5, has a request for 1.3 million mail-in ballots.

Last August, Russians poisoned Vladimir Putin’s opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Almost dying, Navalny tricked the Russian assigned to tail Navalny into explaining the method of poisoning: the lethal nerve agent Novichok was planted inside the crotch of his underpants. Konstantin Kudryavtsev believed he was being debriefed by a senior official from Russia’s National Security Council and talked about traveling to Siberia to clean up the evidence. Navalny probably lived because his flight was diverted to Omsk where he was treated within minutes of landing. When Kudryavtsev got the clothing, he applied solutions to destroy any evidence of poison, according to directions from Stanislav Makshakov, the official in charge of the toxin team.

Russia’s four-year ban from international sports competition may be cut in half, but the country will still miss the next two Olympics and the World Cup. No flag, no anthem, no presence at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, 2022 Winter Games (Beijing), and other competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, the Youth Olympic Games, Paralympics, and other world championships. Russian athletes can compete but not under the Russian flag. The court ruling for Russian doping also requires Russian government representatives, including Putin, cannot attend a major international event for the next two years. Russia must pay $1.27 million to the World Anti-Doping Agency for covering the costs of its investigation and turn over data from its Moscow laboratory.

With the addition of a Moderna vaccine, the CDC is planning more vaccinations with the next tier going to essential workers and people 75 and over. The first group was comprised of healthcare workers and people in nursing homes along with “older” members of Congress. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), 49, joined the “older” group to get vaccinated, becoming one of the 32,000 Floridians in a state with a population of 21,480,000, mostly people over 65 and an enormous nursing home population.

Grifters are making money off the grifter in the White House. Reggie Skyrock and Ashley Weiss selling bus tickets to Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, for $40—no refunds. Yes, you read that right. It’s posted on Event Brite. And the announcement was still there a few hours even after The Bulwark outed them.  

December 18, 2020

GOP Sabotages Stimulus Bill, Economy

The United States is on the verge of another government shutdown, almost two years after the last one created by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his GOP minions. This one comes from the attachment of a stimulus bill to the budget which expires today, December 18. The general election slowed down any stimulus bill because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to destroy the economy for a Democratic president. He found no value in austerity when the GOP gave trillions of dollars to the wealthy and big business in the 2017 tax cuts and earlier this year with the CARES law giving billions more to big business. The hope last fall was that DDT’s name on another set of $1,200 checks for most people in the U.S. would make him—and other Republicans—reelected in the fall. There was no bill: Republicans came out of the general election better than expected, but DDT lost, much to the denial of his supporters.

McConnell’s decision was to vastly shrink the amount of the current stimulus bill to under $1 trillion while blowing up the amount by using money from the CARES law. He blocked the stimulus bill by refusing to send any money to local and state governments, in serious shape from the pandemic, and demanding big business have no liability for endangering their workers, even when they sit around and make bets about how many of their employees will die.

To further jeopardize the stimulus bill and the economy, the GOP tacked on another demand today, ending emergency lending programs for small and medium-sized businesses authorized by the CARES Act. The CARES Act states the programs don’t expire until 2026 unless Congress changes the law.  Language from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who doesn’t plan to run for reelection in two years, blocks all money in the Treasury’s rainy day fund, even funds not from CARES, from use in similar future programs to respond to a financial crisis. Of nine programs needing to be renewed at the end of 2020, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants to scuttle five of them. Toomey wants to prevent any future Treasury secretary of either party from ever providing assistance for both small businesses and non-federal governments.

“My goal … is always to get as right-of-center an outcome as possible,” McConnell said when questioned about a crisis, specifically a government shutdown. His one goal is to stay in power, and he’ll do anything to keep the job. He admitted the only reason he might send out smaller stimulus checks is to reelect the two Georgia incumbent senators, who McConnell says are being “hammered” by the stimulus check issue, but he wants the amount small to depress the economy.  McConnell appears to be a DDT loyalist, but his admission about Biden being president-elect shows he will dump DDT when necessary. It’s not that he wants Biden; he just wants his Republicans to not look foolish so they will get reelected.

DDT wants stimulus checks to be up to $2,000, but White House staffers talked him out of the idea. Keeping the stimulus checks low will guarantee a struggling economy when Biden takes over as president and keep McConnell semi-satisfied. Under DDT and McConnell, poverty jumped 2.4 percent in the past five months, the highest annual increase since the 1960s. The shift from 9.3 percent in June to 11.7 percent in November added 7.8 million to the poor while people with a high school education or less—DDT’s supporters—faced a 5.1 increase in unemployment. McConnell figures these people will keep voting for Republicans because they get their falsehoods from conservative media.

To avoid a weekend shutdown today, the House passed a two-day Continuing Resolution to the budget by 360-60 which passed the Senate with a voice vote. Congress has until midnight on Sunday to pass a real budget and a real stimulus bill if DDT passes the C.R

Another Christmas Grinch, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), has twice blocked the stimulus bill. Johnson said:

“I’m not heartless. I want to help people. I voted to help people.”

A favorite Johnson strategy is accusing others of lying while he tells his own falsehoods. During Johnson’s committee hearing earlier this week  focusing on conspiracy theories about evidence-free election fraud, he blew up at Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), accusing Peters of having “lied repeatedly in the press that I was spreading Russian disinformation.” In the past, Johnson did exactly that about Hunter Biden, the son of the president-elect, in a ploy to get votes for DDT. In the midst of the budget and COVID-19 crisis, Johnson devoted three hours to pushing election fraud lies with three witnesses totally lacking credibility. Peters responded:

“This is not about airing your grievances. I don’t know what rabbit hole you’re running down. This is terrible what you’re doing to this committee… Whether intended or not, this hearing gives a platform to conspiracy theories and lies. It is a destructive exercise that has no place in the United States Senate.”

Some of the falsehoods from Johnson’s witnesses were already rejected in tens of courts; others had no basis. With no evidence, Johnson kept claiming fraud had occurred although the one expert witness maintained it did not. The only reliable witness, Chris Krebs, knew the election had no widespread fraud: he was the leader of the DHS cyber security agency until DDT fired him a few days after losing because Krebs wouldn’t say he found fraud. At the hearing, Krebs talked about how the lies about election fraud were worsening the climate of threats against elections workers, causing a “chilling effect” in future elections. Peters said some threats against Krebs were so serious that they had “to make some arrangements for your security to be here today to testify in person.”

Two days after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) supported Johnson’s view of election fraud, that the 2020 election was “stolen” from DDT, he objected to people voting in the Georgia election for two U.S. senators on January 5. He believes Republicans need to block a large voter turnout because it helps Democrats. Paul said:

“They’re mailing out a solicitation to vote by mail. This is not in the state law. I’m very, very concerned that if you solicit votes from typically non-voters, that you will affect and change the outcome. So I’m very worried that the Democrats will control all three branches of government.”

Conservatives control the third “branch of government”—the Supreme Court—because DDT controlled the executive and legislative branches during his first two years in the Oval Office. Paul announced Republicans can have a majority of the legislative branch only if a segment of eligible voters, especially Blacks, are disenfranchised. Paul may formally reject the electoral votes during the January 6 joint session of Congress.

The U.S. Army is refusing to follow Michael Flynn’s request for a declaration of martial law to force reelections in battleground states where DDT lost. On Newsmax, Flynn said:

“[DDT could] order the—within the swing states, if he wanted to—he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically re-run an election in each of those states.”

The response from Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville:

“There is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of an American election.”

Despite Flynn’s claim that “it’s not unprecedented,” there is no record of a U.S. president declaring martial law for a new election. Flynn, a QAnon member, secretly worked with Russia after DDT’s election and before his inauguration to subvert President Obama. His business was also paid to secretly encourage the extradition back to Turkey of a longtime Turkish dissident living in Pennsylvania for 20 years. DDT gave Flynn the same pardon President Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon, absolving Flynn of “any and all possible offenses” arising from Mueller’s investigation, any related grand jury proceedings, and all charges based on “facts and circumstances, known to, identified by, or in any manner related to the investigation of the Special Counsel.”

In the past week, Steve Schmidt, formerly John McCain’s campaign manager, shifted his voter registration to Democrat, because of DDT’s and the GOP behavior:

“It was a joke in a lot of ways, but it was a coup. It was a failed coup. And the way you get to a second coup in most countries is by having your first unsuccessful one.”

Schmidt described the Democratic Party as the only one that “stands for the ideas and ideals of American liberty.” He declared, “I’m a single-issue voter now. I believe in democracy.”

December 18: daily U.S. cases – 254,680; deaths – 2,794. Thirty-three more days to go.

February 22, 2020

DDT: Week 161 – The Chaos Continues

This last week Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) retaliation went beyond firing Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire. In his reign of revenge, DDT fired Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood, who began his federal career under George W. Bush. Rood made the mistake of questioning DDT’s freeze on military aid for Ukraine and warned Defense Secretary Mark Esper that withholding the aid would “undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia.” Another Rood sin, in DDT’s eyes, was telling Congress that Ukraine was initiating significant reforms to get the funding which undermined one of DDT’s arguments for keeping the congressionally-appropriated money from Ukraine. Rood is the ninth recent DDT-instigated departure from the DOD.

Victoria Coates, deputy national security adviser, was moved to the Energy Department because Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade adviser, thinks—with no evidence—that she is the anonymous author of the book A Warning and of the op-ed criticizing DDT in September 2018. A week ago, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who hired Coates as his deputy to manage Middle East and North Africa issues, said she would not be moved from the job; a few days ago he confirmed her move. Navarro was given his job with the administration after DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner saw his name while browsing Amazon and seeing the title of his book, Death by China. Many of DDT’s misguided beliefs about trade can directly be traced to Navarro.

DDT is even threatening to get Neil Cavuto fired from the Fox network after the host allowed A.B. Stoddard to say, when she was making the point that Mike Bloomberg’s bad debate performance didn’t damage him:

“Donald Trump had many disastrous debate performances. Many answers were so cringeworthy that you couldn’t believe that he was still standing on the stage, and he’s President.”

DDT spent 15 minutes of his Colorado campaign rally ranting about Cavuto, ending in incoherence about his enemies:

“They want to take you out. They want to change the results. They got caught spying—let’s say it like it is, right?—they got caught spying on our election, fake news. Hey, fake news: take your cameras for a change, and show them the room, and show them behind you.”

DDT told Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he could abolish collective bargaining rights for the Defense Department’s 750,000 civilian workers, a move unions decried as part of the administration’s far-reaching assault on organized labor. “national security” and that, if necessary, collective bargaining rights at the department should be scrapped in the interest of “protecting the American people.” The workers have been guaranteed by law since 1962.

Floridians passed an initiative allowing voting rights to up to 1.4 million people who served sentences for all but the most serious crimes, but the state legislature spent over a year trying to stop them by requiring them to pay all court-related fines and fees in order to register. Florida funds its court system with heavy fines. Disenfranchised blacks are five times the rate of any other state. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court has upheld a ruling opposing the Republicans’ poll tax for voting for the 17 plaintiffs. The decision opens the door for the remainder of affected people to vote, but a review by the entire court may change the decision because DDT has flipped the court to majority Republican. DDT’s Supreme Court could also overturn the ruling.

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), that leaker/liar to DDT, most recently who got Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire fired for allowing a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee. Last year, Nunes filed a racketeering lawsuit against Fusion private investigation started by a GOP company to discredit DDT during his campaign. The judge not only refused the $9.9 million in damages but also indicated that he would sanction Nunes and his attorney if he pushed the lawsuit. Nunes claimed that he was a victim of “active, coordinated and ongoing corruption, fraud and obstruction of justice” in his efforts to investigate the firm’s role proving stoking DDT’s ties to Russia during his 2016 campaign. He is known for his litigious obsession.

In his budget, DDT has ghosted women to the point of making them invisible. Gone are programs for women in healthcare, family planning, and paid leave while making tax cuts for the wealthy and big business permanent. Almost 40 million women get their health coverage from childbirth and family planning to chronic disease and disability care from Medicaid, which is being erased.

Over half of all women—68 million—have preexisting conditions. These include six million pregnancies each year, considered by insurance companies as a “preexisting condition.” Women also have chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes at higher rates as well as cervical cancer. The budget also eliminates family planning funding for Planned Parenthood and an evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program. DDT’s paid leave plan ignores 75 percent of workers needing paid leave for their own health issues, care for ill or injured family members, and a military family member’s deployment. Also missing are solutions for sick days for shorter-term illnesses such as flu or care for a sick child.

While reducing domestic spending, DDT increased nuclear weapons spending by 20 percent in both the Defense Department ($28.9 billion) and the National Nuclear Security Administration ($19.8 billion) to a total of $46 billion.

Some people said that the impeachment trial was a waste of time, but DDT’s legal team provided arguments for Democrats suing to obtain DDT’s tax returns. When they asked a judge to lift a stay on the lawsuit, they used statements from Jay Sekulow and Alan Dershowitz who refuted the position “that the House is constitutionally barred from obtaining judicial enforcement of its subpoenas.”

During the impeachment inquiry and trial, DDT’s GOP supporters consistently cited the media as support for their lies about investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Without using the name of John Solomon, Republicans sourced the misrepresentations using conflicts of interest for opinion pieces in the sometimes-credible conservative publication The Hill. After an investigation into Solomon’s work, The Hill has released an evaluation—too little, too late—of problems in Solomon’s supposedly journalistic work and the changes that they are making as attempts to return “to report the news in a nonpartisan and fair way.” The problem is that this action was not taken before GOP Senators unleashed DDT in a virulent purge of quality career employees throughout the government through an acquittal of his unconstitutional behavior. 

Solomon’s columns guided DDT into demanding investigations of the Bidens, and DDT’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani promoted Solomon’s writings through Twitter. Fox’s Sean Hannity also promoted Solomon and his disinformation. Paul Farhi reported:

The Hill said Solomon amplified an inaccurate and one-sided narrative about the Bidens and Ukraine that was fed to him by Giuliani, ‘facilitated’ by businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani at the time, and reinforced by Solomon’s own attorneys, who also represented clients embroiled in U.S.-Ukraine politics.”

According to the evaluation of 14 Solomon columns and related videos, The Hill didn’t retract or apologize the articles. Solomon still contributes to Fox.

A U.S. jury awarded a Missouri peach farmer over $265 million for years of crop losses because of drifting dicamba weed killer, produced by Monsanto. The farm, which lost 30,000 trees, didn’t use the herbicide, but Monsanto sold GMO soybeans and cotton seeds to their neighbors without EPA approval. This was the first dicamba legal challenge to go to trial, but it will be followed by many others affected by a destructive and untested product. German chemicals company Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 and plans an appeal while fighting a multitude of lawsuits alleging that the weed killer Roundup causes cancer, 140 cases related to dicamba, safety risks from its Essure birth control device, and suits regarding PCB-contaminated waterways.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in trouble after she ignored her staff and kept open a for-profit “accredited” college with neither faculty nor students. Originally tied to the University of Northern Virginia, Reagan National University moved to Sioux Falls (SD) having “among the laxest rules for colleges in the country,” according to a report.

DDT’s BLM is empowering far-right ideological “constitutionalist” theories negating federal government power by allowing local sheriffs to ignore BLM regulations. The current acting director, William Perry Pendley, believes that the federal government has no right to own federal lands. The “constitutional” approach originated with the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic organizations of the 1970s and 1980s and later developed from a Mormon ideologue and the 1990s Militia of Montana and Montana Freemen.

Fans protested because Fox sports didn’t show DDT’s campaign speech last Sunday although it was on Fox “news.” Maybe the sports channel didn’t want to embarrass DDT by showing him following the words on his speech like a beginning reader. Once again DDT broke the law by using taxpayer resources for campaigning during his lap today at Daytona in the presidential limousine. And once again Republicans won’t care.

February 16, 2020

DDT: Week 160 – More Corruption

DDT wants more money to kill people with military funding, less money to help people in the United States. Pieces of his budget cuts:

DDT’s tariffs dropped farm prices, and his budget slashes crop insurance, used to support corn and soybean farmers for low prices, by 31 percent. Another 10-percent cut would remove incentives for farmers to keep soil in place and reduce water pollution. Last year, farmers faced “soil-destroying mega-storms, export-killing trade wars, low crop prices, and spiking bankruptcies,” reported Tom Philpott. DDT’s $28 billion handout to farmers ended this month, and the coronavirus decimated trade, despite DDT’s bragging about his “deal” with China. Crop prices for corn and soybeans are “treading water right now,” according to University of Iowa agricultural economist Chad Hart. “The trade deals took us one step forward and coronavirus takes us one step back.” Hart said. National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson said:

“As both a presidential candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed his appreciation for and dedication to American farmers. Yet year after year, his budget has failed to address the very real economic challenges facing rural communities.”

DDT’s budget continues his efforts to eliminate the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS and all federal funding for libraries. In addition to $23 million in the 2021 budget to close the IMLS, DDT asked for $33.4 million to do away with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and budgeted for the closure of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. [Other programs that DDT wants to eliminate.] Congress opposed these closures in the past: the FY2020 budget increased $10 million for the IMLS budget which included $6.2 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), funding equivalent to two of DDT’s weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago. ALA president Wanda Brown said:

“Eliminating federal funding for libraries is to forego opportunities to serve veterans, upskill underemployed Americans, start and grow small businesses, teach our kids to read, and give greater access to people with print disabilities in our communities.”

DDT’s rally audiences chant “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton and the tragedy at Benghazi, but DDT’s budget cuts the $5 million to honor J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador killed by terrorists at that Libyan diplomatic outpost. Despite 11 GOP hearings exonerating Clinton of any blame for the deaths of four people at Benghazi, State Department secretary Mike Pompeo accuses her of putting “political expediency” ahead of people “on the ground.” Now Pompeo and DDT are being investigated for their treatment of U.S. diplomats. The Stevens Initiative was created to memorialize his dedication to cultivating international exchanges; DDT is trying to eliminate the funding for the third time.

DDT’s budget cuts $4.5 billion, 25 percent, from the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), the military fund offsetting Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Last year’s reduction was $6 billion and the previous year, $6.5 billion. DDT opposes U.S. programs that provide training, resources, and funding for European foreign governments and takes money from the fund for his wall. The EDI funds are part of the budget category Overseas Contingency Operations, a slush fund for the Pentagon.

DDT’s budget, a political statement, gives his priorities. In these cases, he wants to get rid of the arts, education, and food production while protecting Russia.

In a letter to all 74 federal inspectors’ general, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader, is requesting an immediate investigation about the “shameful” and “illegal” White House retaliation against whistleblowers who raise concerns about the misconduct and abuses of power by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). In so doing, Schumer warned of a “dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the president and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness.” He said the attacks included the “attempts to publicly identify the anonymous whistleblower who used the proper legal channels to initially report the president’s attempts to compromise our national security for his personal benefit.”

The impeachment trial may be over, but the Senate Intelligence Committee has shown interest in talking to the whistleblower who set everything in motion. Committee chair Richard Burr (R-NC) is considering a subpoena for the person to testify. Vicechair Mark Warner (D-VA) hasn’t agreed with Burr but said that the person’s anonymity and safety “is a top priority.” Although not a committee member, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has pushed for the whistleblower to testify and called on Burr to investigate the “episode.” Roy Blunt (R-MO), not up for reelection, agrees with Graham; Susan Collins (R-ME), worried about her lack of popularity in her reelection year, is cautious without a “compelling case.”  

With no permit and wearing white face masks, 100 white supremacists marched in Washington, D.C. and shouted “Reclaim America!” Police protected these members of Patriot Front, a group promoting “American Fascism,” while they broke the city law. The organization wants to “reclaim our nation’s capital from Jews, Marxists, and anti-white enemies in government who want to see white Americans erased. We seek to build a fascist homeland in the ashes of a failing democracy.”

Paramilitary groups are trying to join the mainstream by declaring themselves a “non-profit” groups as Washington state’s chapter of Three Percent, part of the “Patriot Movement,” has done. Their racist ideology, however, hasn’t changed.

As white domestic terrorist groups gain power, the FBI created the ability to attack peaceful protesters. Under Director Christopher Wray, the FBI put pro-choice “violence” in the same only one episode of pro-choice-inspired terrorism, a threat in an online comments section. Of 850 current domestic terrorism cases, 50 percent concerned anti-government extremism and 40 percent concerned racist terrorism. The remaining 85 cases concern animal rights, ecological degradation, abortion, and miscellaneous cases.

Wray may want to help the Supreme Court rule against abortion rights. This year’s Louisiana case is almost identical to the Texas law struck down three years ago that demanded doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a state-approved hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. SCOTUS determined that the Texas law provided “few, if any health benefits for women” while being “a substantial obstacle to women” in exercising a constitutional right. Two justices added to the court since then lean anti-abortion. The current case attacks Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) which blocks regulations constituting an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. Without this stipulation, states can make any unreasonable demands regarding women’s rights and abilities to have abortions. The FBI can then block any response from pro-choice activists by accusing them of violent extremism, especially with the help of activist AG Bill Barr.

After DDT said no one was harmed in the dozen rocket attacks by Iraqi militia, the Pentagon announced that 109 service members have traumatic brain injuries. DDT calls them “headaches.”

DDT is running for reelection on criminal reform but praises China for executing drug dealers. He full-throatedly campaigns for the Second Amendment with no restrictions on gun ownership but pushes against freedom of the press in the First Amendment. The only part of the constitution that DDT supports is the Second Amendment.

Most of the publicity about DDT’s retaliation concerned the Vindman brothers marched out of the White House, but DDT’s paranoid policy caused another 50 career professionals to be sent from the White House to their home agencies. Early DDT employees, who resigned or were fired, are now returning.

  • Hope Hicks, the former communications director who DDT looks upon as a daughter, is now his counselor.
  • Johnny McEntee, who lost his security clearance from gambling debts, will oversee the Presidential Personnel Office.
  • Stephen Miller ally Chad Mizelle, another DDT anti-immigrant loyalist, will be the unqualified appointee for DHS general counsel.   
  • Mandy Gunasekara, who pushed DDT to drop the Paris climate agreement, has returned as the EPA chief of staff.  
  • Former DDT chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer are now members of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Spicer quit after DDT hired Anthony Scaramucci for communications director; Priebus was fired after six months. Scaramucci had called Priebus a “leaker” and “a f*cking paranoid schizophrenic—a paranoiac.”

In a state of confusion during his speech in New Hampshire, DDT said, “The redemption money is paying for the wall.” He may mean “remittances” that undocumented workers send to their families out of the country, but the plan to collect this money was never enacted. The military funding for base housing, schooling, medical facilities and other improvements are paying for the wall.

More geography gaffes: While speaking in New Hampshire, DDT confused Concord, NH with Concord, MA, giving New Hampshire credit for the Massachusetts involvement in the American Revolution.

A majority of people, 55 percent, believe that DDT was not exonerated by his impeachment acquittal. More than that, 59 percent, think that the trial was conducted unfairly.  

December 21, 2019

DDT: Week 152 – Dems Busy beyond Impeachment with GOP Obstruction

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) used tweets on Friday to attack the conservative evangelical publication Christianity Today founded by Billy Graham because it advocated his impeachment. Adding to his 15,000+ lies in less than three years, he called the publication “a far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ … which has been doing poorly and … knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call….” He also tweeted, “I won’t be reading ET [sic] again!” Graham’s son Franklin Graham criticized CT’s position but said he had not read the editorial about impeaching DDT. Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of the piece, retired on January 3 after 30 years involved with the magazine. 

DDT continued to threatened $250 million funding for Ukraine by blocking a $1.4 trillion spending package funding the federal government through the end of September 2020 if it contained the provision that he must release funds for the U.S. ally within 45 days. Democrats gave in to his demands to keep the U.S. from a shutdown by withdrawing the deadline for the funding release. The bill also lost a mandate that letters authorizing the release of congressional funding must be made public. In the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DDT got his “space force,” and government employees got 12 weeks paid parental leave

The bills also raised the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and a 3.1% pay increase for the troops and civilian federal employees. DDT got $1.375 billion for his wall, partly repair and less than the $8 billion he wanted. Defense spending increased by $22 billion. Elimination of three taxes to pay for the Affordable Care Act adds $373 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Forty-seven Republicans, once the party of fiscal prudence, voted for the budget that leads to more deficits. The GOP tax 2017 tax law already reduced U.S. tax revenue which fell 2.5 percent of tax-to-GDP in 2018, the most of any country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Republicans managed to keep violent white supremacists in the military by blocking an amendment while non-violent transgender recruits are banned.

DDT’s signatures on the bills avoids a government shutdown days before the first anniversary of the last one, a rancorous event that lasted 35 days and cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

With a vote of 385 to 41, the House passed another major bill this week, the trade deal with Mexico and Canada called NAFTA Lite. The bill looks very different from DDT’s original draft; even the AFL-CIO approves. Gone are the pharmaceutical protections for drug companies, and appearing are higher labor standards in Mexico, faster dispute resolution, higher environmental standards, and stronger enforcement of the deal. Mexico almost backed out with the requirement of five people from the U.S. to supervise its labor arrangements. While not perfect, the new trade agreement is considered better than the original NAFTA, passed 23 years ago.

These major accomplishments negate DDT’s and Republicans’ assertion that the impeachment inquiry kept the House from addressing any other issues. DDT called the opposing party “the Do-Nothing Democrats,” but “do-nothing” better fits Republicans. The House’s hard work is visualized in this photo of 275 House bills DOA (Dead on Arrival) in the Senate because (Do-Nothing) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to acknowledge them. 

Facebook removed over 600 accounts connected to the pro-DDT conspiracy website The Epoch Times for using artificial-intelligence identities to push fake stories about topics including impeachment and elections. The network, “The BL,” was operated by Vietnamese users pretending to be Americans and using fake photos created by algorithms to fake real identities. In pushing the pro-DDT conspiracy theories, The Epoch Media group spent $9.5 million on ads to spread content on the pages and groups that FB suspended. DDT’s official FB page posts their stories. A U.S.-based media company, The Epoch Media group, has now joined foreign governments to use foreign people posing as U.S. people to push pro-DDT content to its 55 million followers. Publisher of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory, claimed that it has no connection to BL because it’s part of Epoch Times Vietnam and that their former employees creating and working for BL doesn’t show any connection with its 89 pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts.  The largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook until August, The Epoch Times was banned from buying FB ads after the company consistently violated FB’s political advertising rules.

One of the many lies in DDT’s Wednesday Michigan rally went viral, and Republicans, including DDT’s sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), demanded that DDT apologize. In response to Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) vote for impeachment, DDT said that her husband, a World War II veteran and former member of Congress, had gone to Hell. DDT also falsely claimed that Rep. Dingell had called him after her husband’s service to praise DDT when he called her. Pelosi said that DDT “misunderstands … that cruelty is not wit.”

The Dingell attack is part of DDT’s five ruling hallmarks:

Governing as perpetual warfare: us against them to inflame base and create deep divisions.

Governing by exhaustion: a war losing participants from boredom.

Governing by grievance and hyperbole: victimhood and martyrdom from declaring the BIGGEST or BEST or WORST as shown by the comparison of his impeachment to the Salem witch trials and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Governing by defiance: no matter the evidence, DDT also claiming that he’s never wrong.

Governing with “alternative facts”: over 15,000 lies in less than three years along with stories with no identification of people or changing names of characters. (Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) supports this position by telling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “We’ve beat the facts back all the time.”)

In exhaustion, the fifth top official at the Pentagon resigned within the past week from these positions: international cooperation in weapons systems, Asia policy, personnel and readiness, advanced research, and intelligence. Acting chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to depart following the impeachment trial after being ignored in personnel, policy, and impeachment decisions. Rumor suggests his replacement is founder of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who said he won’t run for re-election and may work for DDT, something that he’s done for the past three years.

More exhaustion at DDT’s Michigan rally appeared when his “four more years” chant died in fewer than ten seconds. At the rally, DDT also claimed, “The steel is back”: Two days later, US Steel laid off 1,545 workers in closing its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit.  In October, 376 Louisiana steel workers lost their jobs when Bayou Steel shut down its mill in LaPlace.

Senate Republicans keeps allowing Russia to interfere in U.S. elections while DDT’s administration fights to protect Russia from sanctions, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who usually walks in lockstep with DDT, introduced legislation to punish Russian people and companies for its interference in the 2016 election and its targeting of Ukraine, Syria, and dissidents for attacks. Sanctions were partly because of Russia’s capture of Ukrainian sailors and ships. DDT’s State Department sent a 22-page letter to Graham in opposition to his bill. It passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday with opposition from five of the 12 Republicans. McConnell can block the bill from going to the Senate floor.

After DDT met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office during the impeachment inquiry, Vladimir Putin-approved state TV confirmed that DDT is a Russian agent in a segment called “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting with Trump.” And DDT isn’t the “puppet master” as this photo, requested by DDT, shows in Lavrov standing as the power behind the throne. 

Russia does expect DDT to “face a very unhappy period” after he leaves the White House. A joke was whether Russians should “get another apartment in Rostov ready.” Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych settled in Rostov-on-Don when he fled to Russia in 2014. Valery Korovin, director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, said, “There are no disagreements or contradictions between Trump and Russia.” Putin-supporter and law professor Mikhail Antonov said, “Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections” and pin the blame on Ukraine.

Former White House officials say that DDT passes Russia propaganda such as the false theory about Ukrainian hacking supporting Clinton because Putin told him to do it.

A federal judge allowed the lawsuit against DDT and his administration alleging violation of federal records law after DDT confiscated and destroyed his meeting notes with Putin. No detailed records of DDT’s and Putin’s communication in their multiple meetings exist.

The White House is catching crazy from DDT’s conspiracy theories: reporter Brian Karem said it’s claiming that Hillary deliberately lost the election by getting help from Russian hacking so that DDT could be impeached. Although the logic sounds wacko, that is the culture of DDT’s administration. DDT also claimed that Democrats started trying to impeach him before he declared candidacy.

After DDT pardoned military war criminals, his approval rating with service members dropped—42 percent approval. Half of them gave DDT an unfavorable rating.

November 23, 2019

DDT: Week 148 – Misery Beyond Impeachment

The people of the United States had one victory this past week during the impeachment inquiry: the government didn’t shut down. Without a new budget—or an extension of the existing one—the situation would have returned to the same as December 22, 2018, almost a year ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) signed an extension until December 20 that passed the Senate by 74 to 20 (all Republicans) and the House by a mostly party-line vote of 231 to 192. The question is whether he will sign a new budget if it doesn’t have the $8.6 billion that he wants for his wall. Republicans want $5 billion for the structure, and Democrats include no money in all the spending bills they passed. Of the 12 annual spending bills required to fund military and federal agencies, lawmakers have agreed on not one of them. An alternative is to keep funding at current levels through the end of 2020, something that neither side wants. The passed extension includes a 3.1 percent military pay raise and funding for the census.

The bad news for people in the U.S. is that ISIS is rebounding after DDT’s actions causing greater instability in the Middle East by taking assistance from the Kurds. According to a Pentagon report, Turkey’s launch of a military operation caused by DDT’s actions has boosted ISIS ability to go abroad for attack. Despite Turkey’s claims about fighting the terror group, neither Turkey nor its proxy forces will carry through with its promises. The U.S. has stopped training “for commando teams, prison guards, counter-IED techniques, and other specialty skills” that the Kurds lack. DDT had moved the troops in northern Syria only to “protect the oil.” The report states that the Syrian forces joining the Turkish incursion “had not carried out any counterterrorism operations against ISIS since the start of the offensive and were unlikely to do so.” Instead, some of the Turkish-back militias that smuggled ISIS fighters into the area “probably maintain low-level ties to ISIS.” The “ceasefire” is also in name only with these militias engaging in murder and violence.

Last week, DDT insisted, “The ceasefire continues to hold” during his press conference with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I’m a big fan of the President,” DDT said about Erdogan. The Pentagon sent questions about the ceasefire to the State Department which didn’t respond. Christian genocide-survivors near Tal Tamr are also threatened by militia attacks.

Turkey is also sending ISIS fighters to their “home countries,” beginning with one to the U.S., another to Britain, and seven others to Germany. Erdogan said that he is sending thousands of ISIS-affiliated people in Turkey’s custody back to “their countries of origin.”

DDT sides against democracy and human rights in Hong Kong because he wants a good deal with China. This past week, the House on Wednesday passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by a vote of 417 to 1 (Thomas Massie, R-KY). The day before, the Senate unanimously approved the measure. DDT’s deference to Xi Jinping resembles that of his devotion to Vladimir Putin.

Last weekend, the media discussed the reason that DDT made an unscheduled trip to Walter Reed Medical Center. He said that it was to start his annual exam earlier; his last one was nine months ago. Yet the visit wasn’t on either his White House or personal calendar. The press secretary claimed he went because he had a free day, but the visit was on Saturday when DDT typically plays golf. The “routine checkups” described for the visit could easily be done at the White House, but results of drug combinations—amphetamines, phenylnephrine, and caffeine—would need more sophisticated equipment.

Press secretary Stephanie Grisham went on Jeanine Pirro’s show to report DDT’s fantastic health despite the fact that he works from 6:00 am to “very, very late at night” something his schedule doesn’t show. Pirro described DDT as “almost superhuman.” Grisham, the press secretary who has never had a press conference, said it was “dangerous for the country” for anyone to challenge the veracity of her claims.

With the world focused on the impeachment inquiry, the news has largely ignored a second whistleblower, this one who reported that at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department may have tried to interfere with an audit of DDT’s or VP Mike Pence’s tax returns. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair and ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee are now looking into the complaint with credible allegations of “evidence of possible misconduct,” specifically “inappropriate efforts to influence” the audit of Trump’s materials. The House Ways & Means Committee is also considering obtaining a deposition from the whistleblower and discussing whether to interview the person in a committee executive session.

Earlier this month, DDT’s campaigning failed to elect GOP governors in Kentucky and Louisiana. Now he has worse news: Louisiana’s GOP failed to get a supermajority in its legislature to override the Democratic governor’s veto. The census will bring legislative redistricting in 2020, and the GOP can no longer control the process.   

Clarence Mason Weaver, a new DDT pick for DDT’s advisory board for the reelection campaign device “Black Voices for Trump,” said that women are not equal to men and women should act like “handmaidens” rather than “queens.”

For DDT’s first five months in office, U.S. taxpayers paid his businesses $2,000 a day—over $250,000—for DDT’s Secret Service. He keeps his businesses, visits them with aides and security, and then charges the government for all their expenses. This unconstitutional act violates the Emoluments Clause which DDT calls “silly” and blames on Democrats.   

For the past four years, DDT has used Hillary Clinton’s secure private server as a weapon with constant cries “lock her up.” Yet no Republican has paid attention to Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and ambassador to the UN, after she sent sensitive and classified information through unsecured channels before she resigned as ambassador. Haley couldn’t find her secure password so on July 4, 2017, she used her unsecured BlackBerry 10 smartphone to send “confidential” information so her aides could “clean it up.” The subject was North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting Alaska. Haley communicated information about the danger of nuclear war with North Korea. DDT’s pressure to investigate Clinton’s email was probably a factor in her losing, and he continued to investigate everyone surround the issue up through this year.

Back in September when people were mysteriously dying from vaping, DDT supported a national ban on flavored vaping products and claimed, “We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our kids be so affected.” Regulators cleared the ban, and only DDT’s sign-off was needed. Big business got to him, however, and DDT backed down before a press conference on November 4. He thought the job losses would cause him political problems. Yesterday, he decided that maybe it would be okay if he raised the vaping age to 21. Although some of the deaths are for those under 21 years of age, the median age is 53 with patients’ ages ranging from 13 to 78. And DDT hasn’t signed off on anything about vaping.

Over the objections of the Army Corps of Engineers and Customs and Border Protection officials, Jared Kushner and other officials plan to live-stream DDT’s wall building. Contractors don’t want their techniques available to smugglers who have already sawed through new sections of DDT’s wall. Officials are also concerned that cameras will show work crews violating Mexican sovereignty as they wander south of the border with their vehicles and heavy equipment. U.S. costs will include building web connectivity and keeping people available to reposition the cameras. Kushner has called meetings every two weeks to push for faster construction. So far, DDT has replaced 81 miles of barrier.

Arrested for giving humanitarian aid to two young men from Central America in the Arizona desert, Scott Warren has been exonerated of two felony charges in his second trial. The first one ended in a mistrial with a hung jury. Warren had faced 20 years in prison if prosecutors had proved criminal intent instead of humanitarian aid.

AG Bill Barr said he was going to start executing federal inmates after 16 years of no capital punishment, but a U.S. District Court judge blocked the executions intended to be done by a single drug instead of a mix of three.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr is looking into the Trump Organization’s CFO Allen Weisselberg as part of its criminal investigation into DDT’s business affairs. The question is whether DDT recorded the hush-money reimbursements for DDT’s sexual affairs as “legal expenses,” with sham invoices. Weisselberg’s earlier immunity deal applied only to federal proceedings. Vance’s charges has remained on hold for almost a year until federal prosecutors said that their investigation was “effectively concluded.” The two-year statute of limitations for misdemeanor false-records charges ends on December 5, 2019. Vance is still waiting from the Supreme Court to see if they will hear DDT’s request for blanket immunity from criminal investigation. If the case is not heard, Vance will receive DDT’s tax returns by the end of the year.

March 30, 2019

DDT: Week 114 – Off the Rails without Attention to the Barr Report

This week should have been all about the release of the Mueller investigation, now known as the Barr Report after he put out four pages of misleading information for the real report that might have been almost 1,000 pages long. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) did start off with self-congratulatory claims for misleading information but managed to wander off track into the weeds and infuriate the GOP members of Congress.

Presented with a friendly—and irrational—court decision to nullify the Affordable Care Act, DDT ordered his AG lapdog to not defend the law because his own plan is better. He has no plan so he told GOP legislators to prepare one: they are refusing. Republicans even told DDT to drop his elimination of the ACA because healthcare issues brought a majority Democratic House. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called DDT to tell him that his plan won’t work, and two cabinet members, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and AG Bill Barr, disagreed with destroying the ACA. Yet DDT is calling the GOP the “party of health care” when he plans to destroy healthcare for tens of millions of people.

Effects of no ACA and no other health plan:

Two million young people will no longer need to be covered by their parents’ plans.

Twelve million people in poverty could be taken off Medicaid.

The number of uninsured people would increase by 21 million people, or 70 percent. Some states will suffer more; for example, Kentucky, state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will see an increase of 151 percent in uninsured to 379,000 people.

Medicare beneficiaries, as many as 60 million, would face higher costs for medical care, premiums, and medications. The coverage gap on medications, slowly closing because of ACA, will open up again, and people will pay more for preventive care such as wellness visits and diabetes checks. Cuts in government payment for hospitals and other providers, including private Medicare Advantage plans, will increase premiums. An experimental program to save money for 12 million people may disappear. Medicare’s revenue may drop by $346 billion without the ACA.

As many as 133 million U.S. residents with pre-existing conditions could be denied insurance coverage—52 million people—or face far higher premiums. These include common medical issues such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Being a woman was a “pre-existing condition” before the ACA because females could be denied health coverage or charged higher premiums. Before ACA, women were charged at least 30 percent more than men but denied maternity coverage.

Up to 171 million people will no longer be protected from caps used by insurers and employers to limit costs in coverage each year or for a lifetime.

Hospitals and doctors can lose $50 billion with the disappearance of health insurance. Rural areas may need to close hospitals, giving people less heath care for more money.

People forced back into junk health plans with little coverage will end up in medical bankruptcy, the #1 reason for bankruptcy in the United States.

The DOJ declaration that ACA is unconstitutional may give $1 billion to a Florida healthcare executive on trial for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Lawyers filed a motion for dismissal for accusations of kickbacks, fraud, and services that were not provided or medically unnecessary with the claim that the DOJ claimed that these offenses are unconstitutional. They want a mistrial. Either prosecutors contradict DDT’s position or agree with the executive’s claim that he should be exonerated. Releasing him from charges could result in everyone else convicted of this fraud under the ACA would demand release.

While DDT waits for the courts to destroy more people’s lives with lack of health care, a judge has struck down DDT’s rule to expand insurance plans not meeting the ACA requirements. The ruling references permission for small businesses and self-employed people to gather for association health plans. Lower costs in the “junk” plan means highly reduced health coverage, something that the ACA originally blocked.

In another health-related case, a federal judge threw out DDT’s Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the purpose of Medicaid is to extend health care benefits to low-income people, and the work requirements don’t fit with this goal.

A federal judge overturned DDT’s attempt to open 120 million acres in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic Ocean for fossil fuel drilling and declared his action illegal. Plaintiffs had argued that presidents may issue bans to withdraw from offshore oil leasing and development, but other presidents are not permitted to reinstate that development. Only Congress can take that action. Appeals could face the 9th Circuit Court and perhaps the Supreme Court. Oregon has also passed a law blocking drilling off its coast.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court blocked a lethal injection in Texas because the prison refused to permit a Buddhist priest to be with a man in the death chamber. Last month, the same court allowed the death penalty to be executed on an Alabama convict for the same reason. Brett Kavanaugh changed his position about religious freedom for all religions in a month.

More bad press followed DDT and his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with public protests that they had cut the entire $17.6 million budget for Special Olympics. DeVos made a fool of herself trying to defend the action in a congressional hearing and later explaining that she really liked the program after DDT claimed that he had “overridden my people” to give money to the program. DeVos joins at least 19 other DDT cabinet members to end up under the bus. No matter what, the decision isn’t theirs: only Congress can authorize the final budget.

DeVos had not only eliminated 29 education programs essential to kids with disabilities, including after-school programs for low-income kids, professional development for teachers, and mental health services, but is also attempting to convince people that bigger classes sizes are better for students.

After threatening to close “large chunks” of the southern border, DDT now says he will close the entire border to all trade if Mexico “doesn’t immediately stop all illegal immigration coming into the United States.” Five million people can lose their jobs if he goes through with his threat, and millions more can lose their health care and cheaper prescriptions obtained in Mexico. He also plans to slash almost $500 million in aid to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras in a misguided attempt to cut down on the number of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. His plans will exacerbate current problems of violence, poverty, and lack of jobs—driving more migrants north. The U.S. doesn’t give funding to the government; it provides for programs, many of them administered by nonprofit groups trying to stop migration.

DDT said that pointing machine guns at immigrants seeking asylum would be more efficient than a wall. He also said, “I wouldn’t want to do it,” but he’s also known for changing his mind hourly—and maybe some of his followers will follow through on the suggestion. DDT is already “housing” immigrants in cages under a bridge.

In a follow-up to the closeness between the airline industry and acting FAA chair Daniel Elwell, ProPublica published emails between Elwell and his industry buddies showing how he protects them. Appointed as deputy administrator on June 26, 2017, Elwell continued his “support” of his former lobbying clients. On his federal financial disclosure, Elwell failed to list clients who paid him $282,500 in 2016 and part of 2017. Unlike other oversight agencies, the FAA both regulates and promotes the airline industry; Elwell takes the latter much more seriously. A Senate committee has scheduled Elwell to testify on airline safety next Wednesday.

“How Donald Trump Inflated His Net Worth to Lenders and Investors,” a must read, details his financial lies that could lead to charges of fraud and corruption.

A federal judge ordered the DOJ and FBI to turn over former FBI Director James Comey’s memos so that he can determine whether to release them to the public.

Twitter, which allows world leaders to violate their terms of service because of being “newsworthy,” may start labeling DDT’s tweets as “offensive” if others would not be allowed to send them.

Putting people at risk of identity theft and fraud, FEMA gave personal data of 2.3 million disaster victims to an outside contractor. Information included birth dates, partial Social Security numbers, full names, addresses, and financial information with details of banking information.

February’s national debt of $234 billion was 46 percent higher than for the entire year 2007, making an average monthly deficit under DDT at $117 billion, higher than the average monthly deficits during President Obama’s both terms. DDT said both said “I love debt” and promised to eliminate the national debt.

Polls in states that supported DDT in January 2017 are now opposed to him, shown by approval ratings above and below 50 percent:

  • Pennsylvania: 1/17: +10; 2/19: -7
  • Ohio: 1/17: +14; 2/19: -5
  • Michigan: 1/17: +7; 2/19: -15
  • Wisconsin: 1/17: +6; 2/19: -14
  • Iowa: 1/17: +9; 2/19: -10
  • Florida: 1/17: +22; 2/19: -2
  • Arizona: 1/17: +19; 2/19: -6
  • North Carolina: 1/17: +17; 2/19: EVEN
  • Georgia: 1/17: +18; 2/19: -1

DDT hoped that the Barr Report would help his ratings, but he’s in exactly the same place he was before its release—42 percent approval and 55 percent disapproval. Nothing seems to help him.

March 26, 2019

Nuclear Buildup – World Extermination

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:19 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Most people in the U.S. today don’t remember the drills in public schools in which young people were told to practice hiding under their desks in case of a nuclear attack. That practice may return—along with all those “active shooting” exercises that physically injure teachers—with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Oval Office. The Pentagon wants to spend $1.7 trillion to rebuild every piece of its nuclear arsenal, including some that were banned by the Russia-U.S. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty until DDT dumped the agreement. Sort of like getting rid of agreements to help curb climate change, keep Iran from nuclearization, eliminate relationships with previous allies in NATO, etc. The Pentagon goal is also add far more terrifying ones after National “security” adviser John Bolton orchestrated the withdrawal from the INF and tries to scuttle the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, up for renewal in 2021. Peace to hawkish Republicans and military leaders is comprised of gigantic stores of doomsday bombs and missiles that follow DDT’s philosophy of threats and intimidation.

Over a year ago, the Pentagon released its first official strategic policy since the April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The role of nuclear weapons has transferred from reduction of nuclear weapons’ role to expansion and new “low-yield” munitions, intended to use against conventional forces. The new NPR claims that Russia and China have improved their nuclear powers although Russia reduced the number of its deployed nuclear warheads and China has made little upgrades to its relatively small stockpile. During the last decade, the Pentagon has spent $22 billion to upgrades.

The Pentagon’s plans “strategic” nuclear weapons aimed at other nuclear-armed countries in addition to the gravity bombs stored in Europe for air delivery against ground forces and installations. The goal is to obliterate countries if the Pentagon wishes. The result would be nuclear winter in which a cloud covers the sun for years or decades, finishing off human civilization. Robert Lamb’s description:

“Suddenly, the sky blazes with the radiance of a thousand suns. Millions of lives burn to ash and shadow. Finally, as nuclear firestorms incinerate cities and fo­rests, torrents of smoke ascend into the atmosphere to entomb the planet in billowing, black clouds of ash. The result is noontime darkness, plummeting temperatures. and the eventual death of life on planet Earth.”

The U.S. military follows the triad system: ground-based ICBMs, submarine-borne SLBMs, and long range bombers. If one fails, the others could still fight an enemy. Because submarines are the most effective, nuclear strategists have argued for eliminating one or two of the triad, but the Pentagon plans to keep the triad on the basis of faith, not practicality.

The New Start treaty blocked the U.S. strategic arsenal to the same level as Russia—a maximum of 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and nuclear-armed long-range bombers. The U.S. has 400 silo-based Minuteman III ICBMs, each carrying one warhead; 280 multiple-warhead Trident II D5 SLBMs carried aboard 12 Ohio-class submarines, each capable of firing 20 missiles; and 20 B-2 stealth bombers, each capable of carrying 16 gravity bombs, plus up to 46 B-52H bombers, each capable of delivering 20 nuclear-armed, air-launched cruise missiles.

In addition to replacing the entire arsenal, the Pentagon plans to get a large number of low-yield weapons—large enough to destroy Hoboken (NY) but not all of New York City—to oppose enemy combat formations, command centers, and other battlefield components. These are needed, according to the Pentagon, to keep DDT from starting with nuclear war. Russia would never swallow such garbage thinking, but the Pentagon thinks that these “smaller” weapons are more coercive.  Plans for these weapons include use against a cyberattack on U.S. command-and-control facilities and preemptive attacks on Russian and Chinese military assets. A March 13 announcement indicates flight-testing two such weapons in August if DDT has completed the withdrawal from INF.

The $1.7 trillion cost for these plans—designing, producing, deploying, and maintaining for 30 years—that doesn’t include overruns is over double the total military budget for one year. The U.S. already has more accurate and flexible weapons that the proposed ones, weapons more useful in early use for a crisis situation. The Pentagon plan is a dangerous shift in the nation’s nuclear strategy with a focus on nuclear weapons for threats and war. About nuclear weapons, DDT said, “Why are we making them [if we don’t use them]?” Humanitarian costs are far over these trillions of dollars, causing the UN to adopt a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017 which bans the production, possession, deployment, and use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed countries including the United States have not signed the Ban Treaty.

For decades, the Pentagon has had no audit to assess its spending, and the Iraq War has added the Overseas Contingency Operations account (OCO), a slush fund with tens of billions of dollars because it has no cap. The government uses this budget line to pay for projects not funded through the regular process. DDT may put $174 billion into this war budget for 2020, approximately the same as the peak for both Afghanistan and Iraq wars although current troop commitments are ten percent of the 200,000 members deployed to the two countries at the height of the conflict. The military knows that the Pentagon is the sacred cow—or the third rail—that no one dare touch, but it wastes at least $25 billion a year on excess overhead and another $24 billion with the use of 600,000 private contracts on jobs that could be done by civilian government personnel and not at all. Replacement of the overpriced, underperforming F-35 combat aircraft which may never be combat-ready could save another $2.4 billion in one year before billions of savings later. These savings are on top of cutting back the nuclear overkill to save hundreds of billions of dollars.

Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s former energy secretary and now CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), stated that “the risk of a nuclear weapon being used is now higher than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” Of special concern is the corrosion of the Russia-U.S. arms agreement, ready to collapse with Bolton’s opposition to the New START treaty. In case of a cyberattack on command and control systems leading to a false attack warning, a president would have minutes to decide a response with limited information. The all-or-nothing denuclearization position toward North Korea, the U.S. has “miniscule” chances of success. The delivery of weapons doesn’t require missiles; a ship could bring them into a harbor. The number of nations with nuclear weapons could grow. About East Asia, Munoz said, “If some of [North Korea’s] neighbors lose confidence in our military backing for them, then there is a risk there as well.”

The past half century has seen a number of close calls in destroying the world. The most famous might be the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but others were caused by the U.S. interpreting a moonrise in Greenland as a huge Soviet missile launch, a power outage, a solar flare, and computer errors.  Twelve years ago, six unprotected AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, were mistakenly moved from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana where they sat for nine hours until an observant supervisor notice the nuclear warheads.

In the 1950s, Daniel Ellsberg, known for revealing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, worked for the RAND corporation, a think tank providing research and analysis to the U.S. Armed Forces. While there, he had access to material about the U.S. nuclear policy, information along with later work for the Department of Defense and the White House that he finally revealed in his 2017 book, The Doomsday Machine. Despite the belief that only the president can authorize setting off nuclear weapons, he learned that President Eisenhower delegated this responsibility to senior regional commanders who passed it down the system to middle ranking officers. Codes were set at 000000, meaning anyone at higher levels of the Strategic Air Command could launch the arsenal. U.S. military chiefs talked about losses of 275 to 325 million along with the nuclear winter destroying most of the life on the planet. That’s how near the world is to extermination.

Schools of education might consider dusting off all those classes for prospective teachers in helping students hide under their desks.

 

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