Nel's New Day

August 19, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty – Further Losses

People cheered at the departure of white supremacist Steve Bannon from the White House, but the problems of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) aren’t over. Last Tuesday’s press conference his support of neo-Nazis and denigration of those who want racial equality started a firestorm that lasted the rest of the week. As he blasted the people he called the “alt-left,” Chief of Staff John Kelly, “Trump’s Last Hope” according to a Time cover, stood helplessly by. His words started a domino effect resulting in his isolation.

By now DDT has alienated business leaders, world leaders, Republican leaders, religious minorities, racial minorities, military leaders, Fox network, the intelligence community, and his own staff. All he seems to have left are Sebastian Gorka, Stephan Miller, Saudi Arabia, racist Christian evangelicals, and white supremacists, including their media and David Duke. He doesn’t even have Steven Bannon any more

Only 24 out of 292 GOP members of Congress criticized DDT by name, but most of the others still aren’t happy about the disturbance of their agenda. DDT switched tweet attacks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “publicity seeking Lindsey Graham” and “Flake Jeff Flake.” Both had criticized DDT’s espousing an equivalent between white supremacists and their opposition.

DDT’s advisory councils have fallen apart. As CEO members of both the Manufacturing Advisory Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum dropped like flies, he disbanded them. He eliminated the Infrastructure Council, created by an executive order, before it was even finalized. The next one to go was the President’s Commission on Arts and the Humanities, created by Ronald Reagan in 1982, as all the members resigned, stating:

“Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed. Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values.”

The first letters in each paragraph of the letter spelled RESIST. Following these disasters, DDT announced that he would not be attending the Kennedy Center Honors on December 3.

DDT also lost Carl Icahn as an advisor for regulatory matters after Icahn financially benefitted from his advice. One reason for his departure may be an expose on Icahn’s conflicts of interest and questionable legal actions in the New Yorker.  

At least 16 charity organizations, including the American Cancer Society, have pulled their events from DDT’s resort Mar-a-Lago, and more are leaving every day.

House Democrats introduced a congressional censure resolution because of DDT’s support of the white supremacists. The conservative USA Today published an editorial in favor of the resolution and called for “formal condemnation.” Conservative columnist for the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin stated that “any Republican not willing to sign on [to the censure resolution] should be voted out. Period. It’s the only litmus test that matters.” The only president formally censured in Congress was Andrew Jackson in 1834.

DDT is considering privatizing the war in Afghanistan, with Eric Prince, the brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, in charge. Prince, who had owned the violent Blackwater security services, wants his workers to be controlled by an appointed “viceroy” who would make all the decisions including spending and contracting.  He’s recommending billionaire Stephen Feinberg for the job. Feinberg was a member of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college.

After creating chaos in the insurance market with his sabotage of the Affordable Care Act, DDT has reluctantly agreed to make the August subsidy payments to insurance companies. GOP legislators had urged DDT to make these payments because they know they will get blamed for ACA problems. The Congressional Budget Office announced this week that stopping these payments would increase the federal deficit. Ending them would immediately increase insurance premiums and cause other government subsidies to rise. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the health committee, said that congressional members should quickly pass legislations to continue next year’s payments. These payments keep deductibles and co-payments far lower. Without them, premiums would increase by 20 to 25 percent in the next two years. Conservatives have preached doom and gloom about the ACA, but only two U.S. counties don’t have an exchange insurer for 2018. Cutting off the subsidies would cause insurance companies to abandon the exchanges, leaving customers without coverage.

  • A Kaiser poll discovered the following about public opinion surrounding the ACA:
  • About 80 percent want DDT to stop undermining the ACA and take action to make it function.
  • Only 30 percent want the GOP to continue the “repeal and replace.”
  • Sixty percent say that DDT and the GOP are to blame for any upcoming health problems.
  • A solid majority, 52 percent, like the ACA, with only a majority of Republicans against it. That’s a nine-point increase since DDT was elected.

While you were watching Charlottesville:

Opioids: DDT’s press conference on August 8 announced no need to declare an emergency. Then he received bad press about his failure to address the problem and declared an emergency. But he failed to give official notice to Congress which means that there will be movement on the crisis.

North Korea: Kim Jong-Un backed off after China dropped sanctions on the nation, and DDT seemed to take credit.

NAFTA renegotiations: DDT wants more than tweaking, Mexican farmers and workers demand the trade agreement scrapped, and Canada will challenge the rules in favor of its lumber and other trade issues. What can go wrong?

Stock Market: Even a bounce of 60 points after Bannon’s firing didn’t save the DOW from going down over 280 points on Thursday and Friday. DDT probably won’t announce that.

Terrorism in Spain: DDT, the self-identified “fact-seeker, cannot respond to the tragedy of a van driver killing and injuring people in Barcelona, Spain, so he reverted to his lie from the past about General Pershing conquering terrorist Muslims. Late night host Stephen Colbert described DDT’s speech.

Vladimir Putin: In a poll of 37 countries, people in almost half of them declared that they trusted the Russian president more to do the right thing for the world than DDT—and Putin only got 26 percent. Countries with more faith in Putin include Japan, South Korea, Venezuela, Mexico, Germany, France, Greece, and Turkey.

Increased danger for people: Last week, DDT rolled back a regulation requiring truck drivers and train engineers be screened for sleep apnea, blamed for deadly rail and highway crashes. Metro-North in the New York City suburbs had discovered that 11.6 percent of its engineers suffer from this fatigue-inducing disorder.

No flood protections: This week he rescinded flood protections for federally funded buildings and infrastructure, revoking President Obama’s executive order that required new public infrastructure projects such as subsidized housing, hospitals, and fire departments be built a few feet above the “100-year floodplain.” DDT sees no problem with seas rising and is determined to erase President Obama’s entire legacy. The man inaugurated last January said that regulations slow down the approval process and wants to spend $200 billion on projects that can be damaged beyond repair in a few years. Federal flood insurance claims cost an annual average of $1.9 billion.

If President Obama wanted it …:  DDT has taken down a bike sharing station at the White House for its employees. Bike share participants save an average of $631 a year.

Cover coverage: DDT keeps making the covers on major publications.

Lawsuits against DDT:

Five active duty transgender service members are suing DDT for his tweets banning them from the military, having relied on earlier guidance permitting them to be openly transgender in their jobs. The lawsuit asks the courts to immediately block new guidelines that would fire them. The suit states that DDT’s tweets have “already resulted in immediate, concrete injury to Plaintiffs by unsettling and destabilizing plaintiffs’ reasonable expectation of continued service.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis had asked for an extension to an earlier year-long student of implementing the change to ensure that it is smooth.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a class action lawsuit for “unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation” in immigrant deportations of minors. Accusations include the detention and transport of children to detention facilities without notification of parents or lawyers.

Neo-Nazi rally plans: Boston Common, August 19; Laguna Beach, August 20; Phoenix, August 22; San Francisco, August 26; Berkeley, August 27; various cities including Boston, Phoenix, Houston, Upland, Kansas City, and San Francisco, September 9. Participants are so-called America First, Act for America, and Trump Campaign.  On August 19, advocates of racial justice organized groups at over 30 cities, and the “free speech” rally in Boston brought out far fewer white supremacists than the almost 40,000 counter-protesters.

DDT’s tweet about the counter-protesters who supported equality:

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

Almost 1,000 people rallied in Portland (OR) on August 18 against hate. The best sign: pick a torch.

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.

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