Nel's New Day

December 23, 2016

Trump’s Cabinet Goal to Destroy the Planet

World leaders gathered in Paris one year ago to adopt the most progressive climate change agreement ever parlayed. The consensus was a rejection of climate denial. There is universal agreement that global temperatures are increasing at an alarming rate, sea levels are rising to cause great damage to low-lying cities, and greenhouse gases. The result is melting Arctic sea ice and permafrost with declining spring snow cover.

In a jarring repudiation of the Paris Agreement, Donald Trump has collected a terrifying compilation of climate deniers, beginning with the man employed to work with countries around the world, Rex Tillerson who spent the last 40 years helping ExxonMobil rape the world in its obsession with removing fossil fuels.

scott-pruittOklahoma AG Scott Pruitt, nominated as head of the EPA, is 100 percent opposed to federal regulations concerning air and water pollution that were created from laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act passed in the 1970s. As Oklahoma’s top prosecutor, he has led or joined state lawsuits to block almost every major regulation from President Obama’s EPA, including a lawsuit in support of mercury pollution from coal plants. That and his other lawsuit to keep smog pollution crossing state lines both failed. He is currently suing to block EPA efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, proving a conflict of interest for his confirmation.

Pruitt falsely claims that fracking doesn’t contaminate water supplies or cause the vastly increased number of earthquakes in his state. The fossil fuel industry has given him almost $315,000 for his opposition to clean air and water. Pruitt would help DT return to an era before the 1970s, when the EPA was created by President Richard Nixon—a time when health alerts urging people to stay indoors and move as little as possible because of choking smog was common in major cities. In addition to his anti-environment protection stance, Pruitt created a “federalism unit” in his office to fight current policies on immigration, health care, and finance reform.

rick-perryRick Perry, back from being fired from Dancing with the Stars, has been nominated to head up the Department of Energy, the agency that he would have eliminated if he could just have remembered its name during his 2012 campaign for president. GOP Senate leaders leadership don’t even know the purpose of this department. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) praised the choice because Perry’s Texas has lots of oil, but the Department of Energy has nothing to do with overseeing oil, gas, and coal development. That’s the responsibility of the Department of the Interior. Sixty percent of the Energy Department’s responsibility is overseeing the country’s nuclear arsenals that DT plans to “expand.” The National Nuclear Security Administration has a proposed budget of $12.9 billion, and the last two energy secretaries were MIT-educated physicists. Perry took four chemistry courses and got two Cs, a D, and an F; he also scored a C in physics and a D in “Meat.”

The Energy secretary is also in charge of the department’s loan program which started the photovoltaic industry and was responsible for Tesla. This R&D is vital to keep the nation competitive in a technology race, especially with India far ahead of the U.S., but DT already promised to stop research on solar, wind, efficiency, batteries, clean cars, and climate science. Perry also is on the boards of Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, two firms responsible for the pipeline that people at Standing Rock Reservation successfully fought—at least temporarily.

ryan-zinkeRep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), nominated for the Secretary of the Interior, would be responsible for oil if he were confirmed. He loves the idea of drilling in all the national parks, approves of coal leasing on federal land, opposes safeguards for temporary wetlands and intermittent streams, and voted for a bill to transfer millions of acres of national forest lands to states. Climate change is “not proven science,” according to Zinke.

Conservationists have said that Zinke believes “that government welfare handouts can save dying coal companies and crumbling oil and gas giants” and that his “brief political career has been substantially devoted to attacking endangered species and the Endangered Species Act.” During his 2014 campaign for Congress, he described Hillary Clinton as “the real enemy” and “the Antichrist.” Zinke’s nomination adds to the DT’s military contingent. A Navy Seal for 30 years, his congressional website logo refers to him “Commander,” adding to DT’s military contingent in the Cabinet.  At least he studied geology as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon—over 30 years ago.

DT’s advisors hope to privatize Native American reservations, the two percent of land in the U.S. that contains 20 percent of the nation’s oil and gas as well as huge coal reserves, all worth $1.5 trillion, and Zinke may be the man to follow through with these plans. The proposal fails to consider over a century of U.S. policy that preserves Indian tribes on federal reservations government as sovereign nations by tribal leaders.

Native Americans have reported on Zinke’s efforts to circumvent and eliminate the Endangered Species Act limitations. He also opposes attempts to crack down on the black market ivory trade and supports aerial gunning, baiting grizzly bears, and the use of steel-jawed leg traps. The NRA describes Zinke as an “avid” trophy hunter. He beat out Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) because DT, Jr., who sat in on the interviews, wanted a hunter like himself for the job. One headline described Trump’s two sons, Jr. and Eric, as “Awesome at Killing Elephants And Other Wildlife” during their African safaris.

Beyond Zinke’s determination to destroy public lands is his ultra-conservative political views. Donations to his campaign from white supremacists and Zinke’s endorsement for them in political races shows his ties to the neo-Confederate group that inspired Dylann Roof, the man who is guilty of killing nine worshippers in a Charleston (SC) church. He co-sponsored legislation to designate English as the official language in the U.S., and he discussed the bill in an interview with the anti-immigrant  ProEnglish organization, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He endorsed state legislative candidate Taylor Rose, who has close ties with the European right-wing extremist Youth for Western Civilization. Richard Spencer, head of the racist National Policy Institute, may run for Zinke’s vacated congressional seat—if he gets confirmed—and the state GOP party has yet to denounce Spencer.

Zinke’s state newspaper opposes the representative on a number of issues. He’s been accused of helping coal companies that donate to his campaign fleece taxpayers because of loophole to sell to subsidiaries at artificially depressed prices. He ran on a platform of clean energy and climate change in 2010 and then reversed his opinion, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil and gas industry. His fundraising materials suggested he participated in the killing of Osama bin Laden although he retired from the military three years before that even. The Department of Defense told him to stop using the SEAL insignia on his campaign materials. One of his constituents wrote that he could no longer support Zinke because he now sees him as “an unprincipled, self-glorifying, dangerously cynical phony.” Ryan Zinke will fit right in with Donald Trump.

nikki-haleySouth Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), nominated as ambassador to the United Nations, has kept a low profile with her lack of foreign policy experience. Yet she buried a report from her state Department of Natural Resources on the severe problems that climate change brings to her state. After a 2015 flood killed 16 people in South Carolina and caused billions of dollars of damage, she refused to make any connection between the disaster and climate change. The terrifying encroachment of five feet of the sea level onto the South Carolina coast in the next three decades will be replicated around the world.

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21:  King Felipe VI of Spain (not picture) receives Mr. Andrew N. Liveris, President of Dow Chemical Company at Zarzuela Palace on May 21, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images)

The Cabinet is not the only place DT is stuffing with anti-world representatives, Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical who brought the planet Napalm, Agent Orange, Chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D, and GMO crops, will head up the American Manufacturing Council, a private sector group that advises the U.S. secretary of commerce. Last September, Breitbart criticized the Clintons for being friends with Liveris. but made no comment about DT’s selection of Liveris for his team.

The only victory against DT’s determination to destroy the climate was the questionnaire that his transition team sent to the Department of Energy demanding names of people who worked on blocking greenhouse emissions. The DOE refused, and scientists are taking steps to preserve decades of climate data on independent servers so that the DT administration does not erase it.

The Wayback Machine, an internet archive of hundreds of billions of web pages no longer active, is copying its 20 years of material to Canada. During the Third Reich in Germany, the Nazis could burn books to destroy information. Computers make this obliteration much more difficult. Future generations will be able to trace the corruption and fraud of the DT administration.

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December 22, 2016

Trump’s Cabinet: Follow the Money

Remember when Donald Trump (DT) accused of Hillary Clinton being owned by Wall Street? When he told his audiences that he would stop control by special interests? The election is over, he’s won, and he can do whatever he wants. The populists who voted for him can now watch him fill his Cabinet with “gazillionaires,” and the money guys are all from Wall Street—mostly from the failed Goldman Sachs, the “architect” of George W. Bush’s recession. Goldman Sachs is taking over the White House with political czar Steve Bannon, transition advisor Anthony Scarmucci, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Gary Cohn.

Running against Ted Cruz, DT said, “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over (Cruz). Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.” A DT campaign ad showed images of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and the narrator calls about “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” As Sarah Palin said, DT is now surrounding himself with “crony capitalists,” whose goals are greater income inequality, poverty, offshoring, and—in the case of Ben Carson—homelessness.

Con man DT used his voters for marks so he can give the government to the top 0.01 percent, people born into wealth and privilege.

steve-mnuchinSteve Mnuchin’s self-serving policy priorities include more leniency for hedge funds through financial deregulation, greater tax cuts for the wealthiest people though tax reform, and reviews of trade agreements. He has no support for reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, separating commercial banks from speculative investment banks, after the law’s repeal in the 1990s led to the Great Recession of George W. Bush. The nominee for Secretary of Treasury was known for his “foreclosure machine” specialized in dispossessing the elderly and people of color, including a 90-year-old woman over a 27-cent error.

Mnuchin’s company, OneWest, foreclosed on 36,000 homes using robo-signing, a process of employees’ signing foreclosure documents without reviewing them. After the bank became mired in lawsuits, Mnuchin sold it for $3.4 billion in August 2015.  He made another $50 million by resigning from a media company two months before it filed for bankruptcy and then getting preferential payouts. Another $3.2 million came from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme; he avoided repaying victims because his lawyers convinced a judge that too much time had passed before he got caught.

Steve Mnuchin was chief fundraiser for DT, raising millions of dollars for his campaign.

Goldman Sachs COO Gary Cohn talks on the phone as he waits for the start of a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs president/COO and key architect of the 2008 financial crisis, has been named to head the National Economic Council which advises the president on economic policy. As the U.S. economy began to crash from mis-selling of banks’ risky assets and the excessive distribution of sub-prime mortgages leading to massive foreclosures, banks crashed because of consumer defaults. Cohn’s Goldman Sachs lost billions of dollars during the crisis that President Obama had to clean up, and the residential mortgage business, expanded by Gary Cohn, lost $1.2 billion of those losses. He apologized to Congress in 2010 for bad planning, but he personally earned over $60 million, not including shares, stock options, etc., between 2012 and 2015. DT has openly supported the housing crisis because he made money picking over the wreckage. Cohn laments the regulations created since 2008; this is his chance to give DT a gift of huge profits in a housing crisis that he could cause—again. Cohn’s position doesn’t require Congressional confirmation.

wilbur-rossWilbur Ross, another billionaire private equity investor, is DT’s nominee for Secretary of Commerce. He opposes regulations for businesses although 12 miners lost their lives in his coal mine after his company ignored repeated federal safety citations. When DT called his administration “the last shot for the miners,” he may have meant that literally.

Known as “the king of bankruptcy,” Ross specializes in flipping bankrupt companies for profit and selling them to overseas investors, often offshoring jobs and factories. After he purchased these companies, he moved $6.4 billion of their employee pension benefits to the rescue fund of the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation so he could make company financials look better. He made $267 million for his involvement in the steel industry during the early 2000s; retired steelworkers lost their pensions and health care. In 2010, the China Investment Corporation, one of the country’s state-owned enterprises, put $500 million in Ross’ private equity fund. Ross’ part in foreclosures came from buying the second-largest servicer of subprime loans in the United States, American Home Mortgage Servicing.

mike-mulvaneyRep. Mick Mulvaney (SC), nominated as Secretary for the Office of Management and Budget, may be one of the scariest picks—and that’s saying a great deal! As the White House budget chief, the man who came to the House in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and helped create their Freedom Caucus, claims that the new administration will “restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington.”

Mulvaney’s definition of “sanity” is debatable. He helped lead the charge to close down the government in October 2013 and celebrated the event as “good policy.” Two years earlier, he championed the conservatives’ goal to push the nation into default during the debt-ceiling extortion. He argues that default and undermining the full faith and credit of the nation aren’t a problem. The next debt-ceiling crisis is March 2017, less than two months after DT’s inauguration and the same time as the budget deadline, postponed from last month. Congressional members seem to equate the two, but they are opposite: budgets are future spending whereas debts (including the raising the ceiling) means making payments on loans, not new spending. Mulvaney may not have read Section 4 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that reads that the “validity of the public debt of the United States . . . shall not be questioned.”

A strong supporter of a constitutional amendment that would force the federal government to maintain a balanced budget, Mulvaney’s priorities are defense first, followed by cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Mulvaney doesn’t believe in spending money for infrastructure or scientific research. That may be why DT has now said that he won’t enact his big plans for massive infrastructure projects “for a few years.” His excuse is that he didn’t know that the GOP is a party of small government.

In budget negotiations, Mulvaney makes the assumption that responsible Democrats want to protect people, and he’s doesn’t care about people. He said:

“I’ll play chicken with you every time. You think I am crazy, and I know you are not.”

His preference for currency is the bitcoin, digital currency easily erased and stolen, that is “not manipulatable by any government.” In a speech to the John Birch Society, he attacked the Federal Reserve because its actions have “effectively devalued the dollar” and “choke[d] off economic growth.” A reminder of the craziness of the John Birch Society is its claim that President Dwight Eisenhower was “a conscious agent of the communist conspiracy.” The Society believes that the Federal Reserve should be abolished because it’s unconstitutional and that “the only constitutional money is gold and silver coin.” For almost half a century, Republicans avoided the John Birch Society. Now it’s moving into the White House with the white supremacists.

ben-carsonBen Carson, nominated for Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, follows the policy of wiping out the mission of the agency he might head. Despite HUD’s goal of “affirmatively furthering fair housing” from the 1968 Fair Housing Act, Carson said that “government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse.” He compared the regulations to Communism and says that “poverty is a choice.” Public housing could be made unavailable to LGBTQ people because of Carson’s hatred for them. He blamed “mass killings” on same-gender marriage and compared same-gender couples to child molesters and people who practice bestiality.

Unlike his predecessors, Carson has no experience in housing or urban development and will resegregate neighborhoods. Despite proof that minorities are charged higher fees and rates than white borrowers with the same qualifications, Carson wants to weaken the Fair Housing Act because he considers it as “socialist experiments.” Carson’s confirmation would be a great financial boon to banks. What Carson could do to poor people with the help of a GOP Congress: put unfair requirements on assistance recipients; privatize public housing; abandon Obama’s anti-discrimination and housing integration efforts; slash spending; drop climate resiliency efforts; and neglect smart growth.

Businessman and investor Carl Icahn at a news conference where Lyft announced a partnership with the Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Kuaidi, in New York, Sept. 16, 2015. The partnership with China?s preeminent ride-hailing company will allow San-Francisco-based Lyft to operate in China for the first time. (Stephen Yang/The New York Times)

(Stephen Yang/The New York Times)

Carl Icahn, DT’s latest billionaire, will be acting in an “individual” capacity as “Special Advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform” instead of as a federal employee. That means Icahn has no reporting or confirmation requirements, answering only to Trump, and can keep all his money, achieving an unheard-of level of conflict of interest. Worth $20 billion, he can enhance his personal investments by picking the next chair for the Securities and Exchange Commission and help his oil refinery company by picking the next EPA administrator. Icahn has never seen a regulation that he didn’t want to get rid of, but he says that he has no conflict of interest because he won’t be “making any policy.”

DT’s picks for the Cabinet have already made billions by the loose regulation of the federal government. If confirmed, they will be able to enact more deregulation and enjoy far more private gain. After all, the GOP is a part of small government. Only the bottom 99.99 of people in the nation—60+ million of them DT voters—will suffer.

December 21, 2016

Trump’s Warrior-General Coup

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:00 PM
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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) made an apt description of Donald Trump’s (DT) cabinet selections when she said he has “a three ‘G’ Cabinet,” filled with “Goldman, generals, and gazillionaires.” The United States was founded on a principle of civilian control over military might, but DT has decided to select hawks for “civilian” advisors. Third-world countries come to mind.

The National Security Act of 1947 requires that the secretary of defense be appointed “from civilian life” by the president. The law mandates a grace period of ten years before an active duty officer can hold the post  although Congress reduced the time to seven years in 2008. Yet DT is attempting to surround himself with uniforms and medals.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04:  Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee February 4, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to examine threats to the U.S. from all around the world.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will be DT’s National Security Adviser because this position does not require confirmation. Even the conservative Accuracy in Media disapproves of Flynn because of his close connections to the Russians—working for their propaganda machine and being paid for speaking at a gala dinner for the state-owned media company where he sat next to Vladimir Putin. In that speech he lauded the calls to lock up DT’s opponent in jail and demanded that “Crooked Hillary Clinton” drop out of the campaign. While Flynn accompanied DT to classified briefings, his personal firm was lobbying for foreign interests. To Flynn, all Muslims are evil, and police brutality is good.

During DT’s campaign, Flynn interacted with white supremacists, shared fake news stories, and pushed Islamphobia, calling the religion of 1.6 billion people “a cancer.” He also called the Muslim world an “epic failure” compared to “the superiority of the West.” He tweeted a false story claiming that NYPD found information on Anthony Weiner’s laptop that would ” put Hillary (Clinton) and her crew away for life.” Before that, he linked a tweet to one lying about Clinton “wearing hijab in solidarity with islamic terrorists,” using a 2009 photo of Clinton respectfully wearing the head covering in a visit to a mosque. Another link purported that an Iranian scientist may have been executed because he was exposed to Clinton’s email server.

Last August, Flynn claimed to have seen photos of Arabic signs along the U.S./Mexico border to guide potential state-sponsored terrorists and “radicalized Muslims” into the United States. No one else has seen these signs. Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., was removed from DT’s transition team after tweeting his continued support of the “fake news” conspiracy theory that led a North Carolina man shooting in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria because Flynn and others accused the place of being a child trafficking front for Clinton, leading a man coming from North Carolina to shoot a gun at patrons in a misguided attempt to rescue the children.

Flynn “inappropriately shared” classified information with foreign military officers in 2010, but the case against him was dismissed as insignificant. Former U.S. officials said that he was accused of telling Pakistani officials what other agencies, including the CIA, were doing in Afghanistan. He claimed that he had permission, but Army documents state that he did not. Flynn was a leader of the “lock her up” movement against Hillary Clinton for mishandling sensitive information.

In 2014, Flynn was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. While he was at the Pentagon, his employees described his similarity to Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny and referred to his assertions with no factual basis “Flynn facts.”

Flynn suffers from several conflicts of interest. His business, started after he was fired from the government, has ties to the Turkish government, helpful to Flynn when he sat in on DT’s classified briefings. He was re-elected to a paid position on the board of a surveillance drone company that has Department of Defense contracts, a company that came from a business represented by Donald Trump, Jr. until 2014. Flynn’s company employs senior executives whose firms have federal contracts.

Flynn is rapidly losing his support for the position. For example, former Gen. Barry McCaffrey initially endorsed Flynn for the position, but that was before he learned more about Flynn’s statements on social media. McCaffrey said that Flynn’s tweets “border on being demented.” He called on people to “aggressively examine what was going on with Gen. Flynn and his son.”

Lacking the need to be confirmed, Flynn continues his white supremacist activities. Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of a far-right Austrian political party founded by ex-Nazis, met with Flynn at Trump Tower earlier this month. Strache claimed that his “Freedom Party continues to gain in influence,” but his candidate for president of Austria lost the run-off this month. The party did sign a “cooperation agreement” with Vladimir Putin’s Russian political party, laying out a five-year plan for regular meetings and joint projects.

If you’re not already terrified by Michael Flynn in this position, read this analysis by Jonathan Chait. And remember that DT is getting his “intelligence” briefings from Flynn instead of professionals in the federal government.

Flynn’s chief of staff, Army retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, served as chief operations officer for the mismanaged U.S. military occupation of Iraq after Baghdad fell in 2003. Like his colleagues, he made a fortune from connections with defense-related industries after he left the military.

President-elect Donald Trump talks to media as he stands with retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, right, at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Flynn will get hawkish company from John Kelly, a retired Marine nominated to head the civilian agency Department of Security. While overseeing Guantanamo Bay, he rigorously defended mass torture and and said that they are all “bad boys.” He doesn’t care that the majority of these “bad boys” have been unanimously cleared for release by all relevant government agencies.

In 2014, human rights organizations criticized Kelly for using allocations to reduce inequality in Central America for his militarization, violence, and displacement. Kelly now calls on escalating the domestic “war on drugs,” claiming that the growing legalization of marijuana in the United States threatens U.S. foreign policy objectives in Latin America. After he received the nomination, he said that the people voted to “put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security.” One of the largest jailers in the U.S. government, the DHS oversees “efforts to counter terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage our borders while facilitating trade and travel, enforce and administer our immigration laws, safeguard and secure cyberspace, build resilience to disasters, and provide essential support for national and economic security—in coordination with federal, state, local, international and private sector partners.” Kelly opposed opening combat positions to qualified servicewomen because, according to Kelly, it leads to lower standards.

Kelly’s deputy almost matches Michael Flynn in looniness.  K.R. McFarland got this job by making friends with Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. at the Fox network. DT had already seen her on TV. She likes torture and agrees with Kelly that failing to profile Muslims is “political correctness.” McFarland’s 2011 telephone conversation with Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan suggests collusion between the Fox network and the general, including a message from Roger Ailes that he and Rupert Murdoch wanted Petraeus to run for president. (Petraeus, convicted of giving out classified information, was considered for DT’s Secretary of State.)

As a GOP primary candidate for Hillary Clinton’s seat in 2006, McFarland claimed that Clinton’s fear of her drove the successful senator to keep her under surveillance by flying helicopters over McFarland’s house. She said that if voters don’t “throw the bums out,” people “can all start learning Chinese.” (Considering her boss’s closeness to Russia, she may have merely cited the wrong language. She is convinced that Clinton is responsible for the deaths at Benghazi. Her new job requires skill at analysis and synthesis of information without prejudice or bias.

james-mattisJames Mattis, nominee for the Secretary of Defense, sounds downright reasonable because he’s isn’t crazy. Yet he came by his nickname, “Mad Dog,” honestly. He lost his position as head of U.S. Central Command because of his hawkish stance toward Iran. The removal led to his forced retirement in 2013. Mattis has also been accused of war crimes for the aggressive tactics he oversaw in Iraq as commanding general of the 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. DT, fond of  Mattis’ “Mad Dog” nickname, said that the retired general is “the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have,” probably because he thinks they look alike. Looks are all important to DT.

DT’s picks, all losing generals, direct the nation back into the era of the medieval Crusades as perfect Christians declare war to eliminate the evil Muslims. Noam Chomsky said it best: Trump’s position is “vulgar imperialism masked by a fraudulent concern for the working people and the middle class.” The entire interview is well worth reading.

December 20, 2016

Trump’s Monsters for Cabinet Positions

Halloween came eight days late this year when Donald Trump (DT) was elected president of the United States on November 8. His selection began a parade of monsters, the like of which has not ever been seen in the Cabinet and other high federal government officials. It’s as if DT was thinking, “How much do I hate the people in the nation? Let me count the ways?” For the past month he has dribbled out names, each one more of a shock, as he uses the government as his personal toy. All his nominees for agency directors are diametrically opposed to the missions of the organizations that they would lead. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said, “Personnel is policy,” and evidenced by DT’s selections, he loves these policies:

Racism, Voter Oppression, Climate Denial—the List of Civil Wrongs Goes On and On:

jeff-sessionsSen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is DT’s nominee for Attorney General, the person designated to protect legal rights for all the people of the United States through the Department of Justice. He may be the worst choice among all the DT nominees to be confirmed. (Michael Flynn doesn’t require confirmation for his position of Homeland Security Advisor.) It’s been 30 years since the Senate determined that Sessions was unfit to be a federal judge because of his outrageous racist comments, such as calling a black assistant U.S. attorney “boy” and the NAACP “communist inspired.” Yet his xenophobia continues into the 21st century as Sessions calls for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and connects terror attacks against the U.S. to all Muslim immigrant families. He may also have been the architect of DT’s wall idea and thinks that people born in the United States of foreign parents should not be citizens.

Sessions also opposes voting and LGBTQ rights and is  virulently anti-marijuana—now legal at least for medical purposes in over half the states. Just two years ago, Sessions said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Last year, he claimed that carbon dioxide is “plant food” and “not a pollutant” and accused White House  Science Advisor John Holdren of advancing a “political agenda” in explaining links between climate change and weather events such as droughts. His votes support pipelines, kill clean energy tax credits, and block the EPA. This is the man who would determine how the law of the country is interpreted and enforced.

Illness and Death:

tompriceTom Price, nominated for Secretary of Health and Human Services, wrote the bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act including the elimination of Medicaid, arguing that the health care “removes the very freedom and liberty that our founders fought for at its very core.” His plan is to privatize (aka get rid of) Medicare by this coming summer, reducing the “vouchers” to where insurance premiums will cost more than Social Security payments. Another Price goal is to decimate Medicaid by drastically cutting funding. Price also opposes paying doctors “based on quality and outcome.” He believes that the First Amendment lets employers refuse birth control to women and supports defunding Planned Parenthood and eliminating abortion. Sessions also sided with BP during its horrendous oil spill, helped create the congressional Tea Party Caucus, and is totally anti-LGBTQ.

Stupidity and Ignorance:

betsy-devosBetsy DeVos as Secretary of Education would wipe out public education through taxpayer vouchers to charter and private schools. Corporations will make a fortune in operating schools with no regulations, a curriculum that promotes religion, and minimum-wage teachers. DeVos, whose money comes from the Amway Ponzi scheme, joins Bill & Melinda Gates, Eli & Edythe Broad, and the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame to control educational policies in the nation. She is pro-creationism, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-science in her belief that global warming is a hoax.

Despite continued research showing charter school failures in many states, the DeVos “leadership” will continue the GOP dismantling of “government schools” to use taxpayer moneys for religious private schools. DeVos has compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.” Lamenting that public schools have “displaced” the church as the center of communities, she says that school choice leads to “greater Kingdom gain.” DeVos and her husband have put hundreds of millions of dollars toward that end.

DeVos’ brother, ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince, founded the controversial private security contractor Blackwater (now known as Academi) and made considerable donations to first Ted Cruz and later DT. As a lobbyist with no educational experience except attending private schools, DeVos destroyed the schools in Michigan; now she has the same plan for the entire United States.

Fewer Jobs, Lower wages and No Worker Protection:

Andrew Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants Inc., listens during a panel discussion at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 30, 2012. The conference brings together hundreds of chief executive officers, senior government officials and leading figures in the global capital markets for discussions on social, political and economic challenges. Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants that includes Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., has been nominated for Labor Secretary. He opposes raising the minimum wage and wants to automate service jobs to have fewer workers. (Note that Puzder is the choice of the candidate who swore he would give his voters more and better jobs.) Puzder also wants to cut assistance programs and use franchises to avoid paying benefits. His own employees get the lowest wages in the nation and are forced to use taxpayer money to survive. The fast food lobby is ecstatic: International Franchise Association President and CEO Robert Cresanti is looking forward to reducing the number of workers eligible for overtime pay and elimination of accountability for labor law violations at their franchises.

In 2004, Puzder settled three class-action lawsuits about overtime pay against his company for $9 million. A lawsuit against his company in 2013 for not paying managers overtime is still pending, and Puzder said in 2014 that his company had spent $20 million on labor lawsuits in the previous eight years. In another arena, Puzder was accused of domestic abuse by his first wife; police were called to their home at least twice.

Over 100 years ago, the Department of Labor was created “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment.” Now it will support the wealthy—and the robots.

Like DT, Puzder would suffer from massive conflict of interest because he would run the agency in charge of investigating employees—lime himself—for labor violations. The couple are also top-notch misogynists.  One of Puzder’s commercials is here.

puzder-philosophy

Lack of Transportation:

elaine-chaoElaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell (R-KY) and former Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, is DT’s nominee for the Department of Transportation. She has already shown her undying allegiance to business interests over enforcing laws to protect U.S. workers by mistreatment of workers in an epidemic of illegal salary underpayment as employers stole workers’ wages, identified by reports from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). Chao also faked records to make her wage and hour office look better at resolving cases than it was in reality. She was also on the board of Wells Fargo when it scammed its customers for $2.4 million but stayed silent when former CEO John Stumpf quit after congressional hearings. If she is confirmed, Chao will oversee over three times the number of employees who report to the Labor Secretary and be responsible for the safety of roads, airplanes, and rails.

Rep. Bill Shuster, head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has said that DT likes the idea of privatizing air traffic control, a disaster ever since President Reagan eliminated its union and banned over 11,000 former employees from federal service for life early in his first term. Another possibility is privatizing airport security. (It might be noted that McConnell was adamant about not telling the people of the U.S. that Russia was exerting deliberate control over the 2016 presidential election. Chao’s nomination may be his reward.) Drone and driverless car industries would be delighted with Chao in this position because of her reputation for loose regulations.

The Disappearance of Small Businesses: 

linda-mcmahonLinda McMahon, the former World Wrestling Entertainment chief executive, has been nominated for Secretary of the Small Business Administration. With her reputation for crushing smaller competitors to achieve success, she’s another choice that opposes the agency mission. When she and her husband, Vince, took over WWE from Vince’s father, it was already a sizable business controlling wrestling in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast region. Showing little concern for a pact keeping independent wrestling businesses out of each other’s territories, WWE moved in, destroyed the competition, and established a monopoly. She declares wrestlers “independent contractors” and avoids such requirements as providing health insurance. The Small Business Administration acts as an advocate for small businesses by running a large loan guarantee program for them, helping with disaster relief, and advising on issues such as health care regulations. Small business owners are worried about McMahon controlling the agency.

And there are more!

December 19, 2016

Rex Tillerson: Oil in Trump’s Swamp

Kakistocracy: a fine English term going back to 1829 that means government by the worst element of a society, a government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens. Forbes writer Michael Lewitt explains its usage: “Corrupt, dishonest and incompetent politicians, regulators and bureaucrats were put in charge by self-absorbed, selfish and ignorant citizens.” Trump cabinet nominees collectively have more wealth than a combined one-third of American households. They are the most conservative, very white, and very male with almost no experience. In addition, they resemble DT—egotistical, megalomaniacal, bumbling liars. The nation’s future government will be a blend of “nepotism, oligarchy, plutocracy, kleptocracy, demagoguery, alt-right values and a disturbing tendency toward fascist white nationalism.” (Quote from Sophia A. McClennen, professor of international affairs and comparative literature at Pennsylvania State University.)

The Electoral College has voted, and Donald Trump (DT) is now the formal president-elect of the United States. In building his kakistocracy, DT has appointed a number of inexperienced oligarchs for his cabinet. A series of postings on this blog will begin with Rex Tillerson, nominee for the Secretary of State.

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AP Photo / Manuel Balce

tillerson-putinThe outrage against Tillerson from both Democrats and Republicans began with the nominee’s extremely close relationship with Vladimir Putin. Exxon missed the U.S. fracking boom and moved to the Russian and Arctic oil fields, perhaps 20 percent of the world’s untapped resource. Toward that end, the company signed deals between 2011 and 2013 with the Russian state-owned oil company, Rosneft, for exploration in the Black Sea, development of shale resources in western Siberia, and drilling in the Arctic. According to Rosneft, these areas could contain more oil than the Gulf of Mexico. The year after Tillerson and Exxon signed the deal with Rosneft, Russian president, Vladimir Putin gave the country’s Order of Friendship medal to Tillerson. (Above: Russia President Vladimir Putin (R) and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson (L) attend the signing of an agreement between Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the Black Sea port of Tuapse on June 15, 2012. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Exxon is so wealthy and powerful that it’s like a country of its own with its own foreign policy. Its pockets are deep, and it employs such Tillerson advocates as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates. President Obama’s sanctions on Russia’s oil industry for its 2014 “participation” in the Ukraine and annexation of Crimea smashed Exxon’s dreams—until DT was elected last November. Russia needs Western expertise to drill in places such as the Arctic, and DT can give it to them.

Tillerson’s connection with Rosneft also connects him with oligarch Igor Ivanovich Sechin, head of the oil company. A close relationship with oligarchs from major world powers puts Tillerson into a position to set up his own U.S. oligarchy and what better place to do it than the White House. He has been open about his goals. Asked in March 2013 what he would do if he worked in the White House, he laughed and said, “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do.” His idea of international diplomacy—the Secretary of State’s job—is that it “is an enormous amount of interference with that process of discovery and perfection and improvement.”

Improvement to Tillerson doesn’t mean controlling global warming. Exploitation of the Russian and Arctic resources would vastly increase warming above four degrees, but he doesn’t worry about climate change. He has said, “To say that you’re addicted to oil and natural gas seems to me to say you’re addicted to economic growth.”

For almost the entire four decades of Tillerson’s tenure at Exxon, the company has lied about their awareness of catastrophic effects from climate change and spent millions of dollars to block any bills that address the problem. Forty years ago, the company took the problem of climate change seriously and developed programs to explore the issue. Within a few years, however, Exxon started dismantling its own climate change programs and moved on to suppress evidence, spread doubt about science, and block any action to control greenhouse gases. It also created the misnamed Global Climate Coalition to stop any government action to curb fossil fuel emissions.

By the beginning of the 21st century, Exxon used the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of corporations that writes measures for U.S. legislators, to block emissions control. Tillerson was CEO for 12 of those 17 years. In addition, Tillerson’s block of Exxon shareholders successfully opposed a measure from the Rockefeller family to expand the company’s investment in alternative energy sources.

Tillerson’s current position on climate change is that it’s merely an “engineering” issue because, he claims, people can adapt to anything. Asked about models of greenhouse gas concentrations, he replies that “models simply are not that good.” He has no answer for what to do if the sea levels surge and freshwater pulses into the ocean from a collapse in the West Antarctica.

Yet Tillerson’s egregious business dealings go much farther than just his pandering to the Russian government which recently arranged for the release of hacked emails in order to get Tillerson’s possible new boss elected to his leadership position of what people like to call the most powerful country in the world.

Many people are unaware that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Tillerson and Exxon. Under his leadership, the company failed to accurately value its oil reserves in order to keep stocks high. A correct disclosure of its lower valuations would cost Exxon billions of dollars if the initiation of drilling is more costly from the “price of carbon” or regulations that force reductions to greenhouse gas emissions. With this high cost, Exxon might have to drop projects, and that shrinks its profitability. Even if Tillerson manages to get DT to leave the Paris climate accord, Exxon’s worldwide business may lose money because it does business with other countries that remain in the pact.

The SEC is also investigating the reason that Exxon does not record its reserves values when oil prices drop. The price of a barrel of oil dropped from $115 in 2014 to under $28 by last February, but that the company didn’t include that loss in future calculations. Fabricating future profits not based on fact is an act of securities fraud against investors.

DT as president would greatly benefit Exxon because the investigation could get stymied with Tillerson as Secretary of State. The SEC could also be remade with DT as president. Seven top officials, including chair Mary Jo White, have already resigned, and DT can appoint three new commissioners on the five-member panel. Whether Tillerson becomes Secretary or stays Exxon CEO, the oil company benefits. Last week DT referred to the free market as the “dumb market,” indicating that government should be in control, a total reversal of past GOP philosophy.

Another lawsuit plaguing Tillerson and Exxon accuses the company of discrimination against LGBTQ people in its hiring practices. ExxonMobil is the only corporation in history to get negative ratings on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Index for lacking any protections for LGBTQ employees in 2012 and 2013. President Obama’s executive order barring federal contractors from anti-LGBT employment discrimination—probably to be soon revoked by DT—caused the company to adopt an LGBT non-discrimination policy, but the lawsuit is still pending. Exxon has received over $1 billion in federal contracts during the past decade.

Tillerson’s conflicts of interest are overwhelming. He personally owns at least $218 million in Exxon stock and holds a pension worth $70 million. At least he wouldn’t have to pay any taxes if he has to sell them for a Cabinet position because divesting stocks based on a potential conflict interest for this position is tax-free.

In another connection with Russia 20 years ago, Tillerson became a director  and then president of Exxon Neftegas, a US-Russian oil firm based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, a country with zero corporate taxes where Exxon has registered at least 67 companies. Exxon reported that Tillerson was no longer a director after he became Exxon’s CEO in 2006, but the secrecy of the nation may cause difficulty in determining Tillerson’s investments. Conflict of interest may be somewhat legal for the president and vice president but definitely not for Cabinet members or other government officials.

Oh yes, and Tillerson has literally no background in diplomacy or public service—just like DT.  With pushing from oil oligarchs like Dick Cheney and deep-pocketed campaign donor Robert McNair as well as Gates and Rice, skeptical GOP senators like Marco Rubio are showing signs of falling into DT’s swamp—the one filled with oil.

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