Nel's New Day

October 13, 2018

DDT: Weeks 89-90 – Downward Spiral

The past two weeks have dropped the United States into the basement of “rock bottom” with the chance that things will worsen. Serial-liar, beer lover Brett Kavanaugh now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court where his partisan agenda will reward the wealthy and businesses while destroying workers, women, and diversity. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to take away all rights to protest and calls protesters the “angry left-wing mob.” Republicans who rewarded the violence of the Tea Party for the past decade now claim to be victims of people, primarily women, who march and shout objections. GOP senators rewarded Kavanaugh’s unhinged anger during his last testimony but demand quiet from the people who Kavanaugh will persecute.

Kavanaugh won a life-time confirmation after Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “consented,” according to the Wall Street Journal, to his abusive behavior. Her “evidence” against accusations from hundreds of his classmates was a telephone call from Kavanaugh when he said he was innocent. The victors talk about “innocent until proved guilty,” but the hearings were a job interview, not a trial. The only appearance of a trial was questioning of Christine Blasey Ford by the taxpayer-provided, GOP-employed female sex-crimes prosecutor who was set up for a better photo-op to eleven old white male senators on the Judiciary Committee. One justification for Kavanaugh’s protestations was DDT’s vicious false mocking of Ford’s testimony about the night that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Laughter from DDT’s brutish audience echoes in the same way that Ford remembers from her assaulters, Kavanaugh and Mark Judge.

“Women are doing great,” DDT, accused by 19 women of sexual misconduct or extramarital affairs, told reporters by claiming a “scary time for young men.” He obviously meant white men because he has attacked boys of color and failed to help innocent blacks attacked by law enforcement. DDT also restricted the FBI investigation to only nine witnesses, primarily Kavanaugh’s friends. The “doing great” for women means that Kavanaugh’s exoneration will open up more freedom for males to sexually assault women.

DDT hates both protesters and journalists but loves Saudi Arabia, reasons that he has almost nothing to say about the possibility that a large Saudi murder squad killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its Turkey embassy. For the first eleven days, DDT either ignored the problem about a resident of the United States being killed on foreign ground, saying, “I don’t like hearing about it. And hopefully that will sort itself out.” He justified his indifference with the excuse that he doesn’t want to hurt the deal for Saudi Arabia to buy U.S. arms and that Khashoggi is only a U.S. resident and not a citizen. DDT said he might call Saudi leader Mohammad bin Salman to ask him if he is responsible. Before Khashoggi went to the embassy to get paperwork allowing him to marry his finance, U.S. intel had information about his possible fate but did not warn the reporter that he was in danger.

In a striking coincidence, Turkey just released the Christian pastor Andrew Brunson after convicting him of spying and aiding terrorists. DDT said about the dictatorship that he has continually supported, “We feel much different about Turkey today than we did yesterday.” Evangelicals are very happy. DDT asked Brunson’s wife who she voted for and was delighted when she said she voted for him.  Brunson added that he completed an absentee ballot while he was in prison.

In his determination to be above the law and isolate the United States, DDT withdrew from two international agreements because Iran and the Palestinians complained to the International Court of Justice. Iran argued that U.S. sanctions violated the 1955 Treaty of Amity with its sanctions, and Bolton also withdrew from the 1961 Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations after a complaint from Palestine. The administration plans to review with any international agreements with the goal of withdrawing from them.

DDT managed to change the NAFTA trade agreement into the USMCA to give huge advantages to big business and make life less safe for the people of the United States:

  • Lack of food safety.
  • Giveaways to agrochemical industry such as Monsanto and Dow by hiding pesticide safety data.
  • Rise in drug prices for customers with profits for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Promotion of more pipelines and exports of coal and natural gas to expand fracking in the U.S.
  • Limits on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) so that corporations can override environmental protections.
  • Removal of “Buy America” and “Buy Local” laws by giving Canada and Mexico equal access to U.S. government contracts.
  • Additional opportunity for corporations to challenge proposed regulations and repeal existing regulations.
  • Limits inspections of foods allowing the importation of food failing to meet U.S. safety standards.
  • Lack of enforcement mechanisms for workers.
  • Ability of corporations to sue governments if any laws or regulations reduce their profits.

Congress still has to approve DDT’s agreement, but Republicans are sure to vote in favor. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA)  already praised the bill as a win for Iowans before she said, “We haven’t seen the negotiated texts of the language.” The new treaty’s change to intellectual property agreements came from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which DDT dropped during his first week and Ernst hated. Branding is the most important piece of policy to DDT: he hasn’t made any changes to help the United States, but he renamed the agreement.

At the same time as his disastrous performance at the UN when the Assembly laughed at him, DDT got “very excited” about his “new trade agreement” with South Korea, calling it a “brand-new agreement.” It isn’t. President Obama reached the original KORUS agreement in 2012; DDT just revised a few provisions.

Despite the money that big business poured into the stock market from its massive tax cuts, the indexes appeared unstable during the past week. DDT is blaming the increase in interest rates and described the Fed as “crazy,” “loco.” Other problems for the stock market come from China, not only DDT’s tariff war but also the possibility that China is manipulating it currency. Lowering the value of renminbi against the dollar can make exports cheaper after DDT’s tariffs, keeping products less expensive to sell in the U.S. Dollars would then be worth more, causing higher prices of U.S. products in China. DDT hopes to control China so that it will sign a trade agreement favorable to the U.S. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is trying to manipulate DDT by exchanging his raging against Kavanaugh’s opponents with exemption of tariffs on his state’s textile industry.

Last week, DDT sent VP Mike Pence to the Hudson Institute, a conservative U.S. think tank, to attack China for its “predatory” economic practices, military aggression against the U.S., and damaging DDT’s chances for winning the 2020 election. An official said that DDT is creating a “constructive and results oriented” policy toward China. Pence also accused the Chinese of surveilling its citizens, oppressing religious minorities, and spending too much money on the military. A goal of the speech was to convince people that China is behind the election interference, not Russia, although U.S. intel has identified Russia as helping to swing the 2016 presidential election and hacking U.S. voting systems. China strongly disagreed with Pence’s points. DDT may have created a new Cold War without having his name attached.

The disasters of the past two weeks largely covered the news about DDT’s financial corruption and lies regarding his wealth. A 46-page report from the New York Times details DDT’s acquisition of wealth from his father’s attempts to defraud the IRS through giving him money, $1 million by the time he was eight years old—the same amount that he claimed was the only money he got from his father and then repaid it with interest. The “small loan” of $1 million was at least $60.7 million with most of it not repaid. The report indicates that he received $413 million in today’s worth from his father, much of it from tax dodges in the 1990s. DDT’s business dealings constantly failed, and his father constantly bailed him out as well as giving him a stake in a group of apartment buildings that DDT used as collateral for an emergency line of credit.

Voters picked DDT because of his claim to be a highly successful businessman, but in fact he has always been a failure. As for creating jobs with his businesses, he frequently failed to pay the people who worked for him. DDT is both a con and a fraud.

DDT repeatedly says that “the United States is respected again.” Polls show differently, with the steepest drop in Europe and Latin America.

* 70% of people around the world lack confidence in Trump.

* Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both held in higher regard internationally than Trump.

* DDT may have improved in a few countries such as Japan, but he still below President Obama.

*A majority of people in the U.S. think that the U.S. is less respected now than in the past.

* The percentage of Russians confident that DDT will “do the right thing regarding world affairs” plummeted over the last year from 53 percent to 19 percent.

As Brett Kavanaugh spends his first week in office, his disapproval rating is at 51 percent.

June 16, 2018

DDT: Week 73 – More Lies to Add to His Thousands

“I didn’t do anything wrong!” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) repeated this sentence in a whiny voice during his impromptu press conference on the White House lawn this morning as he lied about a wide variety of issues. A few corrections to the record:

  • The OIG report did not exonerate in the Russian investigation. It was about the way that the FBI and DOJ handled the Clinton email investigation.
  • The same report did not show any bias against DDT because the report indicated that there was no bias.
  • There is no indication of “no collusion,” “no obstruction.”
  • Former FBI Director James Comey did not commit some “very criminal acts,” according to the OIG report.
  • Paul Manafort did have something “to do with [DDT’s] campaign.” With the campaign for five months, Manafort ran it for three months, including his highly visual presence at the GOP convention.
  • President Obama was not responsible for the Russian annexation of Crimea, and “going across the red line in the sand” concerned Syria, not Ukraine.
  • DDT did not always hate the war exercises. He got the idea for the gift to North Korea of ending these exercises from Vladimir Putin.
  • Tearing children from their parents at the Mexico border is not the Democrats’ law. It is not a law—in fact it’s against the law as “deterrence—and it’s a policy created and ordered by DDT and AG Jeff Sessions. And he does not want “laws to be beautiful and humane.”
  • The Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are not “liberating” communities from the scourge of MS-13; ICE is deporting law-abiding immigrants.
  • Despite DDT’s declaration that Michael Cohen is not his lawyer, it’s not clear when that happened.

If DDT didn’t lie about something, he said, “Let’s not talk about it” as he did when asked whether he dictated the statement on Donald Trump Jr.

DDT’s classic statement to the reporters:

“Hey, Kim Jong-Un is the head of a country, and I mean he is the strong head. Don’t let anybody think different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

Pressed about the meaning of the statement, DDT tried to cover by calling it “sarcasm.” DDT continually describes the mass murderer as “very talented,” “great negotiator,” “very funny guy”–the pandering never stops.

[The Time cover for June 18, 2018, by Tim O’Brien, meant to address DDT’s political attacks on Robert Mueller.]

DDT’s justification for giving away the farm to North Korea without getting anything in return is that he is guaranteeing “complete denuclearization.” A fact-check of his claims at the June 12 news conference and interview with George Stephanopoulos indicates he has added more lies to the thousands he has told since his inauguration. The complete analysis is here.

  • Far more vague than past agreements, this one is not “comprehensive” with no definitions of “denuclearization.”
  • DDT dropped training war exercises without consulting the Pentagon or South Korea. He complained they were “expensive,” but South Korea pays 50 percent of the non-personnel costs of U.S. troop presence on the peninsula.
  • President Clinton didn’t give North Korea billions of dollars in the agreement of 1994; the money went to companies in South Korea, Japan, and the EU. The 1994 agreement contained North Korea’s use of uranium until George W. Bush broke the agreement and North Korea started building nuclear weapons.
  • Iran’s involvement in its regional politics hasn’t improved since DDT dropped the Iran agreement. President Obama never gave Iran money in the agreement; $1.8 billion was the U.S. debt for U.S. military equipment never delivered in 1980 when Iran released four U.S. detainees. Another $150 billion was released from Iranian frozen assets in banks throughout the world. After Iran pays its debts, it will have about $32 billion of their own money left.
  • The U.S. has a trade surplus—not deficit—with Canada.
  • U.S. funding for NATO, based on gross national income, is under $500 million a year out of the nation’s $700 billion military budget. Indirect funding is what the U.S. spends on its own military or missions not including
  • NATO.

Desperate to find some win out of his losses to North Korea, DDT claimed that “thousands of parents” begged him during his campaign to bring back the remains of their beloved sons from the Korean War. The youngest parent would be over 100 years old.

Bored when he arrived in Singapore, DDT demanded that the summit be moved up one day. He was convinced that the idea was bad only when someone told him that he would get better prime time coverage the next day. (Why is it that most DDT news sound as if it belongs in satire columns?) DDT also prefers North Korea state-run news to the Fox network. Wonder how long Fox will stay friends?

In late 2017, DDT said:

“The horror of life in North Korea is so complete that citizens pay bribes to government officials to have themselves exported abroad as slaves. They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea. … Citizens spy on fellow citizens, their homes are subject to search at any time, and their every action is subject to surveillance. In place of a vibrant society, the people of North Korea are bombarded by state propaganda practically every waking hour of the day. North Korea is a country ruled as a cult. At the center of this military cult is a deranged belief in the leader’s destiny to rule as parent protector over a conquered Korean Peninsula and an enslaved Korean people.”

Now DDT claims that “[Kim’s] country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor.” He loves North Korea so much that he saluted one of its military officers. DDT was briefed to not salute military officers from other countries. Conservatives complained about a negative reaction from Democrats to DDT talking to North Korean leadership after Republicans bitterly decried the possibility of President Obama even speaking to Kim Jong-Il. Democrats, however, objected only to DDT’s obsequious behavior before the leader of one of the world’s most oppressive regimes. DDT also called President Obama an “amateur” when he bent at the waist to shake the hand of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah before DDT bowed to the Saudi’s King Salmon leader. DDT doesn’t even reach the status of “amateur” in his behavior to Kim Jong-Un.

In a 2014 report, the UN described “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” the country as a ruthless police state where as many as 120,000 people are kept in political gulags under horrific conditions; other prisons, effectively labor camps, hold people for ordinary crimes. Telephone calls are monitored, and citizens are punished for watching or listening to foreign broadcasts.” It also wrote about North Korea’s absolute monopoly on information and control of social life”—what DDT said he wants in the United States by eliminating any freedom of expression, opinion, and association.

The aftermath of the G-7 summit also continues to reverberate: DDT’s trade advisor Peter Navarro took back his words about a “special place in hell” reserved for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) criticized Navarro. He said that the term he used “lost the power of that message,” Navarro’s version of an apology.

Gone is any cordiality between Canada and the United States. The Canadian Parliament unanimously voted to condemn DDT’s attacks after DDT’s and his minions’ highly insulting statements following the G-7 summit. Their motion condemned the attacks on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and rejected “disparaging ad hominem statements by U.S. officials which do a disservice to bilateral relations.” About the motion, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “It’s very nice to represent a united country.”

China is also not happy after DDT imposed a 25-percent tariff on $50 billion of Chinese exports. Claiming that the U.S. “launched a trade war,” China has dropped promises to buy more U.S. goods. Tariffs on washing machines, the first item that DDT caused domestic suffering, have raised prices 17 percent on laundry equipment in three months.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said that his party is in a “cult-like situation” with their support of DDT, citing the GOP refusal to disagree with DDT on his tariffs. “It’s not a good place for us to be,” he added with the luxury of someone not running for re-election. Corker agrees with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, once a strong DDT supporter, who claimed on his Morning Joe Show that “primary voters in the Republican Party have devolved into a Trumpist cult.” Don Trump Jr. agrees with Corker: “If it’s a cult, it’s because they like what my father is doing.”

DDT holds an overwhelming popularity with Republicans, but only 40 percent of the people in the U.S. fit into that category. Otherwise, he has dropped considerably since his inauguration. During the past 18 months, his net approval has decreased in all 50 states from six to 31 points.

June 9, 2018

Russian, Chinese Involvements Expand

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gives a few tweets and alienates our former allies, a member of the Congress is trying to slow down meddling by foreign nations in U.S. elections. Until DDT, notifying the FBI seems like a natural response for any candidates if foreign nations contact them about helping their campaign. DDT’s campaign members, however, didn’t bother to mention their frequent contacts with Russians to federal law enforcement, even after major party presidential nominees “were urged to alert the FBI about any suspicious overtures to their campaigns.” Therefore Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is promoting the Duty to Report Act which would “explicitly require candidates and campaigns to notify the FBI if anyone representing a foreign power offers dirt on that candidate’s opponents.” He writes:

“[T]he legislation would make it a crime for candidates, their immediate family, or people involved with their campaign to fail to notify the FBI if any of them are told about, are offered, or receive in an unsolicited way nonpublic, materially significant information about another person running for the same office, when they know or recklessly disregard that the source is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.”

The bill has 16 co-sponsors—all Democrats. Republicans may still be trying not to offend the man who signs their bills and names their far-right appointments.

Robert Muller continues his investigation, filing new charges against Paul Manafort for conspiracy against the U.S., laundering money, false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice in his attempt to coach witness testimony.  A judge decides on June 15 whether Manafort goes to jail after he was caught contacting witnesses in violation of his release before his trial and tried to control their testimony. This highly detailed article following Manafort’s involvement in the Russian takeover of Ukraine uses a variety of documents to explain the threads and indicates that any DDT pardon for Manafort won’t cover state-level activities that can be prosecuted.

An obstruction of justice indictment for coaching witnesses against Konstantin Kilimnik, overseer to Manafort’s Kiev office who has been repeatedly linked to Russian intelligence services, makes 20 Mueller indictments in the past year’s investigation. Kilimnik is currently missing, presumably in Russia after Ukraine allowed him to move there. A timeline of Mueller’s first 388 days.

Mueller also asked witnesses in the investigation to give him their personal phones so that his team can read encrypted texts, conversations with DDT’s associates. They received Manafort’s encrypted messages last month. On his popular Fox program, Sean Hannity recommends breaking the law: he told Mueller witnesses to protect themselves by destroying their cellphones. A response to this illegal advice:

“18§1512 Whoever corruptly persuades another person or attempts to do so with intent to alter, destroy, mutilate or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s  integrity or availability for use in official proceeding shall be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years.”

A new link in the Russian scandal has appeared through the connection between former GOP Rep. Curt Weldon (PA), who lost his election in 2006 after a number of ethics charges against him, and the $500,000 payment by Columbus Nova to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Weldon’s decade-long ties to former Ukrainian Parliament member Andrii Artemenko, interviewed twice in the Mueller investigation, led to possible funding of a peace plan lifting sanctions on Russia by Viktor Vekselberg, co-founder of the Renova Group, a U.S./Russian venture company that lists Columbus Nova as part of its structure. Weldon has strongly supported Russia, stating that “the U.S. is much worse in many ways.” In January 2017 after DDT’s inauguration, Cohen met with Artemenko and Felix Sater, Cohen’s friend and DDT’s former business partner, and agreed to deliver the peace plan, approved by Vladimir Putin’s aides, to Michael Flynn, then DDT’s national security adviser. The full story.

Brittany Kaiser, a data director with DDT’s campaign’s data firm Cambridge Analytica, met personally with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in February 2017 “to discuss the U.S. election.” CA had offered in July 2016 to help Assange index and distribute the 33,000 emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, and Kaiser had said that she funneled money to WikiLeaks, calling the organization her “favorite charity.”

Recent information shows Ivanka Trump tried to arrange a meeting between her father and Vladimir Putin through Russian Olympian Dmitry Klokov by introducing him to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen during the presidential campaign. The purpose was to close a business deal to make millions for DDT, a presidential candidate, and his family. Cohen turned down a meeting, saying that the Trump Organization already had an agreement in place.

Carl Cameron, former Fox political correspondent who covered DDT’s campaign, talked about how the Russians orchestrated its cyberattack on Hillary Clinton in 2016 through Roger Stone’s connections with Guccifer 2.0, a Russian military intelligence officer, and other Russian groups to elect DDT with viralizing memes and fake news on social media. Much of this information has already been made public, but Joe Romm’s article puts everything together—thus far.

After Michael Cohen’s lawyers claimed client privilege for the seized documents, a judge assigned a special master to evaluate whether this was accurate. She found 162 items out of 300,000 that should not be available to prosecutors on that basis. The deadline for reviewing all the items is June 15. After that time, documents that are not privileged can be turned over to prosecutors. If DDT wants to challenge any of the unprivileged documents, he will need to do it publicly.

DDT has dropped the term “Spygate,” perhaps because last week House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) that there was no evidence to support DDT’s claim that the FBI put a spy in his campaign. He followed that statement by saying that DDT shouldn’t pardon himself. The conservatives got upset, and he tried to make up for his honesty by adding the next day that there is no evidence of “collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia.” Some Republicans are consistently calling on him to step down as speaker because he isn’t running for re-election.

DDT seems to have turned on China with his tariffs but not before daughter Ivanka received 13 new trademarks from China in the past three months plus provisional approval for another eight trademarks. At this time, she has at least 25 trademarks pending review and 36 active marks with the eight provisional ones. Most of Ivanka Trump’s U.S. imports come from China. His loosening sanctions on ZTE, the telecommunications company spying on the U.S., came the day after the Chinese-owned company hired Bryan Lanza, former DDT adviser, as a lobbyist. ZTE’s reward was for DDT to tweet, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

China successfully hacked highly classified information about undersea warfare from a Naval Undersea Warfare Center contractor in Rhode Island. The information tells China what distance is necessary to detect their submarines.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s third state visit to China this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping award him the country’s first friendship medal and promised everlasting friendship between the two countries.

In the U.S. this week, DDT had to fill his celebration of Super Bowl winners with Washington staffers after he disinvited Super Bowl winners, Philadelphia Eagles. He was upset because several of them declined to come to the White House, but he claimed the reason for disinviting them was that they didn’t stand for the national anthem. Fox tried to pass off footage of Eagles praying as “kneeling.” No Eagles knelt during the protests to injustice, and Chris Wallace had to apologize on behalf of the network because he is he executive producer of the Shannon Bream “news” show.

Comedian Stephen Colbert compared the false news on Fox to five black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape:

“So Donald Trump is blaming a group of black guys for something they didn’t do. They’ll have to rename the Eagles the Central Park 53.”

DDT took out large newspaper ads calling for their execution but never apologized after their sentences were vacated because of DNA evidence and a confession from a serial rapist and murderer. Last year, DDT disinvited Golden State Warriors after star player Stephen Curry said he probably would not attend.

DDT “misrepresentations” continue with false jobs claims. Earlier this year, he bragged about job totals that were the worst in seven years. Now he tweeted:

“In many ways this is the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job! … Best Economy & Jobs EVER”

The 2.97 million jobs during his first 16 months were exceeded by President Obama’s 3.45 million jobs in the preceding 16 months. The 1.047 million jobs created in January to May 2018 tied for third in the past seven years. DDT’s GDP growth fell short not only of his promises but also across much of President Obama’s two terms.

May 25, 2018

DDT: Week 70 – New U.S. Foreign Policy

China wins. The Asian country has made no commitments about reducing the trade deficits, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is saving jobs in China by lifting sanctions on the Chinese-owned company ZTE. The U.S. government had banned the company from buying U.S. components for seven years because the phones a security risk, used to track service members. ZTE officials as well as for foreign espionage and cyber attacks. Even with a 23-3 vote to keep DDT from lifting these sanctions, the Senate Banking Committee  failed to stop DDT.

During the last week, the U.S. foreign policy on China shifted daily—sometimes hourly. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the trade war was “on hold” because the U.S. had postponed tariffs on China. Hours later, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer told China that DDT might impose tariffs. DDT’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow earlier said that China offered to shrink the trade deficit by $200 billion but followed up on Sunday by saying that the figure was a “rough ballpark estimate” and that the two countries never expected to reach an agreement.

DDT goes to the side that can most benefit him personally, in this case a $500 million loan from China for his personal business. Andrew Ross Sorkin described DDT’s negotiating style:

“Start with a headline-grabbing demand, beat chest loudly, then accept whatever is actually practical and call it a win.”

DDT seems to have forgotten a rule in his ghost-written book The Art of the Deal:

“You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, is back in business—literally—after he got his permanence high security clearance. Foreign officials, including those from China and UAE, can return to planning ways to manipulate him as he can enrich his family business by classified intelligence and access to DDT.

North Korea wins. In his desire to get a Nobel Peace Prize, DDT claimed that the summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un might be back on after he pulled out of the agreement yesterday. In a letter refusing the meeting, DDT had used the excuse of Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement” as his excuse. Technically, the hostility came from John Bolton’s and VP Mike Pence’s statements about employing the “Libya model” for North Korea, an action that led to the death and dismemberment for Libya’s leader. DDT gave no warning to South Korea about his withdrawal which weakened South Korea after its buy-in to the summit. The U.S. State Department may not even have been aware of DDT’s letter to Kim that canceled the meeting.

North Korea already dismantled a nuclear test site, most likely because it had become unusable. History repeats itself as North Korea destroyed another site to get rid of George W. Bush’s sanctions, only to later back out of its agreement. DDT tried to look reasonable by not flying planes over North Korea in his military games, but Kim looked much better after he released U.S. prisoners, stopped nuclear and missile testing, and blew up his nuclear testing site. By announcing that the he was backing out of the talks and then backing down from his action a few hours earlier, DDT looks impulsive and rash. He has ignored briefings about North Korea and advice to move more slowly into diplomatic meetings, thus increasing the world’s negative perspective about the U.S. being a failure under his leadership. DDT made Kim into a world leader and proved himself again a quitter while Kim ended up with the moral high ground.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea also benefits from better trade relationships with China, which may take over talks with North Korea after DDT abandoned its leverage. Japan had been left out of the discussions, thus dropping the talks will leave that country less vulnerable. The coalition of Asian companies further isolates the United States. DDT’s letter made threats by implying that U.S. nuclear powers are more “massive and powerful,” a continuation of DDT’s earlier “my button is bigger than your button” comments to Kim. He also said that the U.S. military is “ready if necessary” to take action against North Korea if it engages in a “foolish or reckless act” and that South Korea and Japan are willing to shoulder the costs. The two Asian countries haven’t responded to DDT’s statements—South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he was “very perplexed and sorry.”

The Washington Post write in an editorial: “Never has such chaos attended the public behavior of a U.S. president on a matter of such gravity.” A history of the failing summit talks with North Korea.

DDT may meet with Kim so that he doesn’t waste this commemorative coin that’s already being sold for $85. Seth Meyers has a segment on this and other coins.

The back-and-forth approaches toward China and North Korea are DDT’s attempt to divert people from James Clapper’s interviews and new book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence, and Clapper’s statement that Russia won the election for DDT, that he is an illegitimate president. Clapper’s interview with Rachel Maddow. Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, also used the word “distorted” in describing DDT’s accusation that the FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled his campaign. That was the subject of a meeting at the White House, first scheduled with only GOP congressional members. Protests led to a second meeting on the same day that included the “Gang of 8, the bipartisan leadership of both the Senate and House. One of the “eight” was missing; House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) didn’t want to miss a fundraiser to be briefed on a confidential intelligence source in the Russian investigation. DDT’s lawyer Emmet Flood managed to attend the meeting about a government’s case against his client—an unethical and possibly illegal action.

DDT’s hope for diverting more attention was “Spygate,” but the FBI was investigating Russian involvement in DDT’s campaign, not DDT and the members of his campaign. Yet DDT ordered federal agencies to give sensitive information about a person in the investigation to lawmakers who, he was sure, would then give him all the information—all for purely political reasons and in violation of the law After the meeting, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the briefing had no evidence of “Spygate.” Republicans said nothing except Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) twice defended false statements and accused Schiff of leaking classified information.  DDT’s other conspiracy theories to falsely and deliberately divert people from facts:

  • Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (He didn’t.)
  • There were improper unmaskings. (There weren’t.)
  • The FISA warrants related to Carter Page were improper. (They weren’t).
  • It was Democrats who actually colluded with Russia. (They didn’t.)
  • Conspiring FBI officials may be guilty of “treason.” (They aren’t.)
  • “Uranium One” is a real scandal. (It isn’t.)
  • Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) had improper communications with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. (He didn’t.)
  • Every member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is a rabid Democratic partisan. (Mueller is a Republican.)
  • Law enforcement officials ”infiltrated” the Trump campaign, “implanting” a “spy” in the Republican operation. (They didn’t.)

The irony about DDT’s complaints about the FBI investigation into the campaign is that the FBI protected DDT. They concealed the campaign’s connections with Russia until after the election at the same time that they released information about Hillary Clinton with no reason that then led to her losing the election.

Other news from the current administration is so bizarre that most of it appears like satire—except for the disasters of the swamp/sewer facts. The latest piece had to be checked, and it’s true. A sinkhole on the North Lawn of the White House outside the press briefing room is growing every day with another sinkhole nearby. These phenomena develop from loosened soil and can swallow cars, streets, and even homes. Exactly one year ago, a bigger pit opened in front of Mar-a-Lago.

According to religious lore, the Bible states in Numbers:

“But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

The Book of Revelation has a more vivid description:

“When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.”

In that case, the sinkhole might be followed by locusts and scorpions. The most entertaining tweets about DDT’s sinkhole.

Jess Phoenix, a volcanologist, geologist and candidate for a California congressional seat in California, said, “Blame the swamp.” Really.

 

May 19, 2018

DDT: Week 69 – Killings, ‘Pay to Play’

Killings on two sides of the world marked the past week. One was the 16th school shooting in the United States in the first four and a half months of the year that killed ten people, eight of them students, and wounded another 14 in the small town of Santa Fe (TX) with a population under 13,000. The 17-year-old shooter admitted that he deliberately aimed at people he wanted to kill; the first girl he killed had turned down his persistent advances over four months. The shooter used guns that belonged to his father. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claimed that there were no “red flags,” but the teenager’s Facebook page and computer journals identify his plans.

Guns don’t kill people; doors do. This claim by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick follows the latest NRA excuse for the growing number of mass shootings. He recommends just one entrance for all 1,400 people in a school like the one in Santa Fe (TX). Former government ethics director Walter Shaub examined the state requirements for doors and tweeted that “Texas has stricter regulations for doors than it does for guns.”

Last week’s Palestinian bloodbath from the Israelis came at the same time that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) proudly opened his embassy in Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Nakba (Catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled by the 1948 creation of Israel. That country’s military claimed that they attacked members of Hamas; Palestinians said that the “terrible massacre” was against unarmed demonstrators. DDT called the time “a great day for Israel” that will create peace between Palestine and Israel, something he has always said would be “easy.” He invited fundamentalist Christian pastors to open the embassy are anti-Semitic. Robert Jeffress has preached that everyone except Christians are going to hell and that Jews will be saved at the second coming of Christ because they will accept Him. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who once led a group illegally funding West Bank settlements, was supposed to create this “easy” peace but blamed the Palestinians for their deaths.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayip Erdogan, led the diplomatic protests from several Arab and Middle East countries against DDT’s action, calling the U.S. “part of the problem, not the solution.” The UK prime minister, Theresa May, was more restrained in her criticism, but Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, called the embassy move from Tel-Aviv a violation of International law and UN Security Council resolutions.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, left an emergency Security Council meeting discussing the killings in Gaza when the Palestinian envoy began to speak. Earlier she had praised the “restraint” by Israel when they killed at least 62 people and wounded another 3,100 Palestinian protesters on the day when the embassy opened on land recognized by many world leaders as the capital of a future Palestinian state. A vote of 29-2 with 14 abstentions by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Israel’s massacre as war crimes followed a speech by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN human rights chief, condemning the “horrific” attacks on peaceful demonstrators and calling for “the occupation” to end. About the Palestinians, Zeid said:

“All of the 1.9 million people who live in Gaza have been penned in behind fences and have suffered progressively more restrictions and greater poverty. After 11 years of blockade by Israel they have little hope of employment, and their infrastructure is crumbling, with an electricity crisis, inadequate health services and a decaying sewage system that constitutes a threat to health.”

DDT claimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel in opposition to State of Palestine claims that the embassy is on its capital. A 1949 international treaty recognizes half the city, including the embassy area, under Jordanian control. DDT’s decision to move the embassy led to a UN revolution, approved 128-9, requesting him to withdraw his declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Those nine members supporting DDT are the U.S., Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo. Another 35 nations abstained, and 21 countries were not present for the vote. DDT said that he made the decision for “peace” in the region.

In his attempts for a Nobel Peace Prize, DDT has decided to “Make China Great Again,” tweeting that “Too many jobs in China lost.” His new-found concern for jobs in China happened at the same time that the Chinese government loaned DDT $500 million for his billion-dollar resort project in Indonesia.

Just 72 hours after the loan deal was made, DDT ordered a bailout for the Chinese-government-owned cellphone maker ZTE. The U.S. military and intelligence community has declared the phones a security risk, and they are banned on military bases out of concern they can track service members. Last year, the company was fined $1.2 billion for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The U.S. government had banned the company from buying U.S. components for seven years because ZTE officials lied about their actions. Stocks may go up for U.S. optical component companies because they can resume exporting their product to China. U.S. intelligence officials believe that China may use ZTE products for foreign espionage and cyber attacks.

DDT’s Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah described the deal with China as “give and take,” and it’s the farmers in the U.S. that are forced into the “give” while China can “take.” After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) threatened tariffs on soybeans, China almost tripled its purchases from Russia and canceled U.S. shipments. DDT had promised to protect farmers.

While national security adviser John Bolton is threatening sanctions on European allies if they dare deal with Iran, China has a new freight train connection that saves 20 days in carrying supplies to the capital of Iran over cargo ships and allows greater trade relations between the two countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that they would “maintain normal economic ties and trade.” China can also again create separate funds and banks from the U.S. market that the United States cannot punish. Chinese entities can also act as intermediaries for European countries to keep trading with Iran with no fear of violating U.S. sanctions, for example oil sales from Iran through China or Russia. Iran sells more to China than any other country with a 25 percent increase in exports last year. Chinese exports to Iran increased over 20 percent. Iranian exports to the EU increased by 375 percent from 2015 to 2016.

DDT is bragging that he will shrink the trade deficit with China because it may buy an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods, up from purchases last year of $130 billion. Some sales may be to ZTE. Economists think the plan won’t succeed, however, because the U.S. may just buy more goods from China. At the same time, DDT is not trying to keep China from taking U.S. intellectual property.

DDT’s foreign policy is also bailing out his son-in-law from his financial problems. The U.S. position on the tiny country of Qatar seems to parallel whether the wealthy oil nation will lend money to bail out Jared Kushner’s disastrous deal with a 41-story building at 666 Fifth Avenue Manhattan. Over a year ago, DDT supported Qatar when Kushner thought it would lend his family business money. As soon as Qatar withdrew the offer, DDT supported the eight-country blockade of Qatar despite the 10,000 service members at the base on Qatar. Now, Qatar is considering a loan of hundreds of millions to dollars to the Kushner family to pay off the original loan and renovate the building at the same time that DDT met with Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. Jared Kushner resigned as his company’s chief executive but kept most of his business with it.

Qatar may have a good reason for thinking that DDT will take bribes. Businessman Jeff Kwatinetz turned down an offer from Ahmed al-Ramaihi, head of the Qatar sovereign wealth fund, to exchange a meeting with DDT and his officials for an investment. Kwatinetz said, “Al-Rumaihi laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn’t be naive, that so many Washington politicians take our money, and stated ‘do you think Flynn turned down our money?’” The pattern for these bribes may have started immediately after the 2016 election.

DDT is already conceding to North Korea by agreeing not to fly two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Korean Peninsula because North Korea’s president, Kim Jong-Un, canceled talks with South Korea. National security adviser John Bolton may be blocking the U.S./North Korea summit by repeated claims that the U.S. will use the “Libya model” in its settlement with North Korea and getting DDT to back out of the Iranian deal. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi ended up dismembered, and DDT’s position on Iran proves that no agreement would be lasting.

The GOP isn’t even worried about a war with North Korea. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that “all the damage … would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security.” The beginning of this war 65 years ago killed 3.5 million people (36,516 of them from the U.S.) and 2.5 million civilians while costing almost $700 billion plus hundreds of billions of dollars more to put military on the border because North and South Korea for 65 years. The U.S. has spent more to cover other Pacific Rim nations. That was before North Korea had nuclear weapons which might reach the U.S.

As a real estate developer, DDT was always willing to walk away from negotiations, the way he promised to negotiate with Kim Jong-Un. His craving for the Nobel Prize may cause him to give up anything to North Korea. His attitude mirrors what he accuses President Obama of doing in Iran.

And then there’s Russia and much more.

 

December 28, 2017

DDT Unsupervised Interview

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM
Tags: , , , ,

While the staff of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) left him unsupervised at his Mar-a-Lago golf course, where he spent the third day playing golf, DDT ran into New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt. The 30-minute on-record interview may make history—and provide fodder in court cases.

The interview began with DDT saying he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general had he known that Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“I thought it was a terrible thing he did. [Inaudible.] I thought it was certainly unnecessary, I thought it was a terrible thing….  I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him.”

DDT’s position is that he made the media with his presence and that it will “tank” if he is no longer in the White House. For that reason, he stated, the media will see that he is re-elected in 2020. He added that the NYT will fail without him.

“They basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.”

During the short interview, DDT insisted 16 times that the inquiry has found “no collusion.” He thinks the investigation should stop because “it makes the country look very bad.”  He accused the Chinese of secretly shipping oil to North Korea and made veiled threats against China.

Other DDT comments:

“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

“I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”

“Paul [Manafort] only worked for me for a few months. Paul worked for Ronald Reagan. His firm worked for John McCain, worked for Bob Dole, worked for many Republicans for far longer than he worked for me. And you’re talking about what Paul was many years ago before I ever heard of him. He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months?”

“And by the way, I didn’t deal with Russia. I won because I was a better candidate by a lot. I won because I campaigned properly and she didn’t. She campaigned for the popular vote. I campaigned for the Electoral College. And you know, it is a totally different thing, Mike. You know the Electoral College, it’s like a track star. If you’re going to run the 100-yard dash, you work out differently than if you’re going to run the 1,000 meters or the mile…. So I went to Maine five times, I went to [inaudible], the genius of the Electoral College is that you go to places you might not go to.

And that’s exactly what [inaudible]. Otherwise, I would have gone to New York, California, Texas and Florida.”

“Now, in my opinion, they should come to me on infrastructure. They should come to me, which they have come to me, on DACA. We are working. … We’re trying to something about it. And they should definitely come to me on health care. Because we can do bipartisan health care. We can do bipartisan infrastructure. And we can do bipartisan DACA…. I want to do a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, at least. We want to fix our roads, our highways, our bridges, which are in bad shape. And you know some of them are actually, they’re x-ed out, they have, you know, possibilities of collapse under bad circumstances. And in 10 years they will collapse. So, I want a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. I think it can be bipartisan. I believe we can do health care in a bipartisan way, because now we’ve essentially gutted and ended Obamacare.”

“I know more about the big bills. … [Inaudible.] … Than any president that’s ever been in office. Whether it’s health care and taxes. Especially taxes. I’ll tell you something [inaudible]. … Put me on the defense, I was a great student and all this stuff. Oh, he doesn’t know the details, these are sick people. So, the taxes. … [Inaudible.] … The tax cut will be, the tax bill, prediction, will be far bigger than anyone imagines. Expensing will be perhaps the greatest of all provisions. Where you can do something, you can buy something. … Piece of equipment. … You can do lots of different things, and you can write it off and expense it in one year….”  I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”

“Now here’s the good news. We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people. That’s gonna be a big bill, you watch. It could be as high as 50 percent of the people. You watch. So that’s a big thing. And the individual mandate. So now you have associations, and people don’t even talk about the associations. That could be half the people are going to be joining up. … With private [inaudible]. So now you have associations and the individual mandate.”

“I’m always moving. I’m moving in both directions. We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain. The chain is the last guy that killed. … [Talking with guests.] … The last guy that killed the eight people. … [Inaudible.] … So badly wounded people. … “

“China. … China’s been. … I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China. You know that. The presentations. … One of the great two days of anybody’s life and memory having to do with China. He’s a friend of mine, he likes me, I like him, we have a great chemistry together. He’s [inaudible] of the United States. …[Inaudible.] China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?”

“And, by the way, it’s not a tweet. It’s social media, and it gets out in the world, and the reason I do well is that I can be treated unfairly and very dishonestly by CNN, and, you know, I have — what do have now, John, 158 million, including Facebook, including Twitter, including Instagram, including every form, I have a 158 million people. Reporting just this morning, they said 158 million. So if they a do a story that’s false, I can do something — otherwise, Andy, otherwise you just sort of walk around saying what can I do? What, am I going to have a press conference every time somebody, every time Michael writes something wrong?”

Joy Reid’s analysis:

  1. Trump speaks a lot like a child does. Lots of focus on who likes him, who loves him, who is his friend… his biographers all emphasize his deep desire to be loved & it comes through.
  2. Trump repeats whatever he is fixated on over and over again. I counted 15 “no collusion” repeats, sometimes two or three times in a single paragraph. And he keeps returning over and over again to the election and how he managed to win via the Electoral College. He’s fixated.
  3. Trump thinks being president means he can do whatever he wants. He has an autocrat’s impulse, and believes literally everyone in government, from the attorney general to every member of Congress, essentially works for him, owes him loyalty, and must “come to him” for mercy. He literally adopted a “Godfather” phraseology to all but say Democrats could have avoided blue state tax hikes via SALT if they had “come to him” to plead for his largesse. It’s a combination of the impulses of 1. and 3.
  4. Trump thinks he is still the star of a TV show, and that the media has the power to decide who wins elections, based on ratings. Seriously:
  5. Trump invents his own reality, and then states that everybody else believes his version of reality too. And since he is so transparent, it’s hard to argue that this is a strategy, rather than a form of self-delusion or just stubborn refusal to accept what is real.

Reading the entire transcript of the interview shows the rambling as DDT interrupted his comments to chat with people around him in the Grill Room and repeated himself. It’s a frightening episode in DDT’s record and one that the aides are going to be covering up for a long time. If the NYT releases the entire transcript, people may see more evidence of DDT’s ranting delusions, lack of focus, and repetitions.

DDT wants attention, and this interview will provide it. He may not like the kind of attention he gets.

May 27, 2017

DDT: ‘Danger to the World’

A White House strategy for keeping Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in line while he traveled the world was to keep him so busy that he didn’t have time to get to his Twitter. The authoritarianism, opulence, and subservience in the Middle East also delighted  him. By last Thursday, however, his keepers had largely gone back to the United States, and he was in Europe where his favoritism of Russian was not as popular as in Saudi Arabia. In Brussels, where he attended the NATO summit, the familiar DDT showed up, with the customary picture of an unstable and embarrassing bully.

Perhaps no image demonstrates DDT’s superior attitude better than his pushing aside Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, representing a country which will join NATO in June to the displeasure of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. It has to be seen to be believed! In his speech he  whined about NATO allies not paying their share and snarked about the expense of the new NATO building. Notable also is the way that DDT rejected the U.S. press. News about him—and there was plenty—came from the foreign press. Many people here and abroad will agree with Germany’s highly-respected Der Spiegel newspaper description of DDT:

“Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

“He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.”

It’s not as if his comments were unscripted, the way that other DDT insults are. In a prepared speech in the ceremony to dedicate the new NATO headquarters, he talked about terrorism such as the Manchester bombing just three days earlier:

“These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct … in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share.”

DDT is demanding that NATO members pay two percent of their GDP as a “bare minimum.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (left with DDT) was polite about DDT’s comments, but a senior diplomat said:

 

“This was not the right place or time. We are left with nothing else but trying to put a brave face on it.”

DDT also told the organization to limit immigration in its goals and failed to commit to its founding Article V rule, mandating that an attack against one ally is an attack against all. He is the only president who has not specifically endorsed the agreement. The only time that NATO has invoked Article V since its founding in 1949 was when the United States was attacked on 9/11. Over 1,000 NATO soldiers were killed in George W. Bush’s war against Afghanistan. DDT made his comments to NATO while standing next to wreckage from the Twin Towers. Last year, he had threatened to abandon the organization if they didn’t pay more while he was catering to Russia, a non-NATO member. Some current NATO countries were in the Soviet Union; Putin called its “a major geopolitical disaster of the century.”

NATO members did not respond well to DDT, as the above photo shows. France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron went so far as to swerve away from him to first greet Germany’s Angela Merkel and others before DDT.

DDT’s continuing ignorance was on full display at the NATO summit. For example, he told Jean-Claude Juncker, EU president that “the Germans are bad, very bad” and said that he plans to stop the sale of their cars in the U.S. Yet he was told at least 11 times when Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, visited the U.S. that the EU makes trade deals, not individual EU countries. Even if he stopped the sale of German cars in the U.S., many people here would lose their jobs because the U.S. manufactured German 281,519 vehicles in the first four months of 2017. In a meeting with Belgium’s prime minister, Charles Michel, DDT complained about the difficulty of building golf resorts in the EU.

NATO members have a more serious reason for their response to DDT. As he actively encourages racist nationalists in the U.S and allies himself with Putin to bring down Europe, he is also willing to start a war to regain popularity. This approach has already been seen in his preemptive bombing of Syria when he searched for a greater support from people in the U.S. He also has exhibited a pattern of carelessness about intelligence that can endanger the rest of the free world.

From Brussels, the U.S. leader moved his disaster to Italy where he met with other members of the G7, the seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund. These countries represent more than 64% of the net global wealth ($263 trillion). Russia was a member of G8 for seven years until the country was ejected for annexing Crimea. DDT threatened them with backing out of the Paris Agreement, a position that he has taken off and on since he began campaigning. This action would put the U.S. on a par with Nicaragua and Syria, the only two countries that did not sign the agreement. DDT has said that the U.S. will not work to slow down climate change if it costs the country money. Withdrawing from the agreement will make China a leader in global environmental policy and new green technologies.

While DDT is making America “great” again by removing regulations, China is on its way to be the world leader in efficiency standards for coal-fired power plants while that nation shifts to renewable energy as shown in this issue brief. While the nation’s new coal-fired power plants are cleaner than any in the U.S., its emission standards are stricter than U.S. ones. China’s air quality is on a political par with economic growth and corruption. If the U.S. doesn’t improve its regulations, all the coal plans would be illegal to operate in China by 2020.

Another argument DDT started with G7 leaders was about migration and famine. He wants only a short reference to the first and to eliminate a five-page statement recognizing migrants’ rights and their positive contribution. The Italian plans on human movement and food security were intended to be the centerpiece of the summit which was in Taormina (Sicily) to symbolize the concern for refugees’ plight. DDT offered its own statement on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis affirming “the sovereign rights of states to control their own borders and set clear limits on net migration levels as key elements of their national security.” He also wants refugees to be settled close to their home countries, letting him off the hook to take the “Muslims.”

By the ninth day of his whirlwind trip, DDT was fed up. He didn’t even bother to listen to a translation of the G7 speech from his host, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni  The man who brags about his stamina was unable to walk 700 yards for a photo shoot; he had to wait for a golf cart. Four of the seven leaders of the G7 are attending their first summit. The only bright spot DDT gave the other six leaders is that he showed up; as usual, he gets a very low bar of performance.

DDT described his trip as “historic,” an accurate word for the way that he pandered to the Middle East for oil and money for his friends while he alienated NATO and G7 allies. At home, however, the attitude toward Islam is same-o, same-o. Rex Tillerson refused a request from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception as part of Ramadan celebrations, a custom for almost 20 years.

Back home, DDT faces increasing pressure—Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Russian collusion, a son-in-law in trouble, falling already bad approval ratings, legislative problems to get his tax reform through, the 2018 elections, and his Twitter addiction. White supremacist Steve Bannon is running the “war room” to protect DDT from criminal charges.

Conservatives who complained about a $12,000 dress that Michelle Obama wore to a state dinner probably won’t bat an eye at the Melania Trump’s $51,000 floral coat and matching $1,630 purse by Dolce & Gabanna. The 2015 median household income in the U.S. was $55,775, meaning that half the households in the U.S. have an income comparable to or less than what Melania Trump paid for a casual jacket and purse.

A bit of humor: an illustrated tale of Emmanuel Macron’s handshake with DDT.

 

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel recovered from her DDT NATO experience with a joy-filled breakfast meeting with President Obama and an event at the Brandenburg Gate. The former president was invited a year ago to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

 

April 7, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven’s Failures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:51 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The biggest feature of the past week was Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) attack on Syria to protect all those “innocent babies” who aren’t good enough to seek refuge in the United States. Less than four years ago, DDT wrote, “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” Evidently DDT changed his mind after watching Fox television. When President Obama wanted to attack Syria, Republicans agreed with the former DD: in 2013 183 Republicans opposed bombing the Syria, and only 12 Republicans wanted to bomb Syria. “Innocent babies” were killed in 2013 too.

Foreign Policy by Mixed Message: Just days before Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, killed almost 100 people in what may have been a chemical attack, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that U.S. policy would not remove the tyrant from power. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley echoed the message that there was no reason for the U.S. to attempt regime change in Syria, and DDT supported President Bashar al-Assad because he “is killing ISIS.” After the attack, Haley blamed Assad’s main ally, Russia, and VP Mike Pence said that “all options are on the table,” a common statement from the White House. DDT blamed President Obama. The most logical blame, however, may have come from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was sure that the Assad regime was “encouraged to know that the United States is withdrawing” from the conflict.

Murdering Tyrant Welcomed to White House: Only innocent babies should be saved in DDT’s world. Earlier this week he welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, his favorite Middle East strongman, to the White House. Egypt is holding 40,000 to 60,000 political prisoners, including thousands of secular liberal democrats. His security forces were responsible for 1,400 extrajudicial killings in 2016 alone and 912 disappearances between August 2015 and August 2016. Evidently Fox hasn’t shown any footage of this horror because DDT calls the perpetrator a “fantastic guy.”

U.S. Slaughter of Civilians in “Slow and Brutal” Death: If Fox had broadcast the aftermath of the 300+ civilians who were killed by one U.S. attack in Mosul, he might reconsider his military approach. The U.S. military denied having killed these people in U.S. airstrikes 22 days ago after U.S.-backed authorities told people to stay in the area of the strikes until this past week. Emergency workers are still pulling bodies out of the devastation. On DDT’s watch, U.S. have killed about 1,500 civilians in Iraq and Syria during the past month, but visuals of the horrific U.S. airstrikes are largely non-existent in the mainstream media—especially the ones that DDT watches every morning.

(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

War for the U.S.? Even before DDT’s attack on Syria, North Korea’s ballistic missile on Tuesday flew 40 miles before falling into the East Sea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea.” Two days before Tillerson’s statement, DDT said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will” and added that he could do it without China’s help. One report tonight indicated that the National Security Counsel may have given DDT the option of assassinating Kim Jong-un.

No Resolution with China: Chinese President Xi Jinping left DDT’s luxurious resort Mar-a-Lago today after a day of meetings and dinner last night while DDT flexed his bombing muscles in Syria. Although DDT said they “made tremendous progress,” they agreed to take 100 days for a plan regarding economic differences. He also failed to pressure China into forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.  Xi described the meeting as “unique.”

DDT’s SCOTUS Win through Changing Rules:  All the news about bombings and missiles gave short shrift to the elimination of the filibuster for Supreme Court justice, allowing Republicans to give lying plagiarist 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch power over people in the United States for up to the next 40 years. In addition to having one of his rulings unanimously overturned by a usually split Supreme Court, Gorsuch plagiarized chunks of his 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, by copying other authors without citations. Six different experts on academic integrity evaluated his actions from mere sloppiness to a clear impropriety. One authority, Syracuse University professor Rebecca Moore Howard, said, “Each of the individual incidents constitutes a violation of academic ethics.” In ads for his confirmation, Gorsuch said he ruled “in favor” of disabled students when he did exactly the opposite. Four years ago, GOP senators blocked almost all President Obama’s nominees with no specific objections to any of them and were shocked when the Democrats fought back.  Now they take the high road in employing the same strategy in spite of the nominee being lacking in humanity and ethical jurisprudence. The usually split current Supreme Court unanimously overturned one of this decisions during his hearings. Three Democrats voted in favor of Gorsuch, all three up for election this coming year in red states.

More Lawsuits for DDT: U.S. District Judge David J. Hale has agreed with plaintiffs that DDT’s campaign call for his supporters to “get ‘em out of here” incited his audience to physically attack people. The three protesters are suing DDT for incitement, vicarious liability, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness. Hale described DDT’s demand as “particularly reckless” and “implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.” He denied DDT’s claim that free speech protects him. Lawyers for Trump and his campaign tried to excuse themselves because they had no duty to the plaintiffs who assumed risk of injury by attending the rally. The judge responded that the law requires every person to use care to prevent foreseeable injury. The case has been referred to a federal magistrate, Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl, for preliminary litigation, discovery and settlement efforts. In addition, four environmentalist groups and ten state attorneys general are suing DDT for its suspension of six energy efficiency standards for product such as ceiling fans, walking-in coolers, and freezers. DDT’s order will cost consumers up to $23 billion in higher energy bills while increasing greenhouse gas emissions. And the Supreme Court has refused to stop a case in the 6th Circuit Court about President Obama’s Clean Water Rule to protect small waterways such as streams and wetlands from pollution while DDT ponders whether to repeal the rule.

Police Reform: A federal judge refused to delay a hearing on a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department, calling the Trump administration’s request a “burden and inconvenience.”

Health Care: The last week marked another failure for Trumpcare despite efforts by VP Mike Pence. A week ago, DDT blamed the Republican conservatives for its failure. The next day he switched to saying that he would work to get them to vote for it. On Sunday DDT tweeted that “talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue.” By Monday, Pence was trying to make deals with the Freedom Caucus, offering a deal to drop the standard minimum benefits and the rule requiring insurance companies to charge the same premium for people of the same age which would make the pre-existing conditions requirement useless. In a meeting with the more moderate GOP wing on Tuesday who were not impressed with the earlier offer to conservatives. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the House is at only the “concept stage” with no plans for a vote. Congress left town today for two weeks and won’t return until the week that the government will shut down without its action. The current Affordable Care Act has a 55-percent approval rate while DDT’s approval rate has dropped to 34 percent. His approval among Republicans has dropped 14 points in just the last two weeks. In addition, he’s lost the majority support of men and plurality of white voters. One of his latest tactics is to attach the health care plan to one for infrastructure, but that plan is such a con that he might fail in doing this also.

In an amazing move this week, DDT took his pet white supremacist Steve Bannon off the National Security Council and replaced him with qualified officials. According to the Wall Street Journal, DDT’s security adviser, H.R. McMaster, made the decision, but many reasons are swirling, including the completion Bannon’s appointment to “babysit” now-fired Michael Flynn. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the replacement, assigned to lead a task force on government efficiency, the same goal as Bannon’s “Strategic Initiatives Group.”  Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  The White House claims that Bannon’s group never existed although Sebastian Gorka, high-level DDT staffer, had talked about being a member, and journalists had seen a door posted with the sign of the group. Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  After his demotion from presidency, Bannon went so far as to tell people that he might quit.  He may not have the chance because another rumor is that both Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus may be fired. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/327909-white-house-frustrated-by-palace-intrigue

On Air Force One, DDT told reporters, “We’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency.” It’s only been eleven.

So much intrigue, so little space. More tomorrow!

September 27, 2015

GOP in More Trouble

Less than a year ago, the conservatives were crowing about being in the catbird seat after taking over Congress: the GOP majority was the largest in 84 years. They planned to wipe out all advances during President Obama’s six years and take the country back a century ago before human rights in the United States.

The first 100 days of the 114th Congress, however, did not go well. John Boehner (R-OH) was re-elected speaker but only after the biggest revolt in 150 years. The House argued about deporting children and threatened to close the Department of Homeland Security. They couldn’t even pass an anti-abortion bill and almost failed to pass a bill against human trafficking. Their priorities were passing an oil pipeline that created 35 permanent jobs, again trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, and pushing the usual tax breaks only for multi-millionaires and billionaires. Most of the few successful bills were supported by Democrats, and the chamber refused to discuss taking action against ISIS while it address—again—the Benghazi deaths. Within the first 100 days, two newly elected representatives resigned in disgrace.

A prime embarrassment for the GOP-led Senate was its delay in confirming Loretta Lynch as Attorney General in the longest wait for any recent AG nominee. They all agreed that she was eminently qualified, and the GOP was eager to get rid of Eric Holder in that position. Yet the GOP-led Senate stalled for 165 days, including the entire first 100 days of the 114th Congress.

The Senate decided to take over the job of determining foreign policy from the president by sending a letter to Iran, declaring that the U.S. wouldn’t live up to its agreements. Boehner invited Israel Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress in an effort to override President Obama’s Iran negotiations and started another lawsuit against the president for his executive orders. By the end of the 100 days, President Obama’s approval rating rose ten points to 50, its best level since 2013.

As disastrous as those first 100 days, they could not begin to match the debacle for Republicans during the past week. Three huge, intersecting events created more problems for the rigidly conservative GOP agenda: Pope Francis’s speech to Congress; China’s decision to create a cap-and-trade policy that the U.S. GOP has rejected; and Speaker Boehner’s unexpected resignation the House of Representatives at the end of October.

As was expected, the pope’s positions made conservatives squirm. His defense of “human life at every stage of its development” was followed by advocating “for abolition of the death penalty,” a blow to conservatives who love the idea of killing people. GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz didn’t go quietly in his response to the pope: he called the use of capital punishment a “recognition of the preciousness of human life.”

The pope spoke against “deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society” and added that the money gained from these sales were “drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” By far the largest arms supplier in the world, U.S. domestic manufacturers sold more than $23.7 billion in weapons to almost 100 countries during just 2014—weapons that included cluster bombs and other munitions used to destroy densely populated areas, schools, and even a Yemen camp for displaced people.  U.S. taxpayers subsidized a large piece of these sales, especially to Israel and Egypt. Members of Congress make $150 million a year from the arms industry.

The pope pushed for the support of immigration by saying that we are all immigrants:

“Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”

Environmentalism has been high on the pope’s list, so much so that far-right pundit George Will wrote that “Americans cannot simultaneously honor [the pope] and celebrate their nation’s premises.” Pope Francis urged Congress and corporations to “redirect our steps” to address “environmental degradation caused by human activity.” Jeb Bush accused the pope, who has a degree in chemistry, of being wrong about climate change because “he’s not a scientist.” [Jeb Bush is definitely not a scientist.]

In rejecting unfettered capitalism, the pope chose Dorothy Day as one of his four examples because of “her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed.” Her Catholic Worker Movement was a model of community organization that helped lift thousands out of poverty. Basically, Day was known as a radical social activist, a pacifist, feminist, socialist, and union supporter—all hated by Republicans.

Throughout his speech, Pope Francis expressed his concern for the poor and his dismay at growing income inequality. Like Day, he supports a just distribution of income and a “modern, inclusive and sustainable” economy. His message for lawmakers urged them to pay attention especially to “those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.” According to Francis, “the fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts.”

Last February, conservatives were livid about President Obama’s statement at the National Prayer Breakfast that while many faith communities around the world are “inspiring people to lift up one another,” we also see “faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge – or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.” The same listeners heard the same message from the pope when he said, “We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.”

Conservatives, who claim to support religious freedom, failed to support a House resolution honoring the Pope “for his inspirational statements and actions” as well as his goals to ameliorate inequality and promote solidarity. Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans.

The announcement from Chinese President Xi Jinping about his country adopting a program to curtail emissions erases the argument that the GOP uses against the a cap-and-trade program in the U.S. Whenever the program has been suggested, conservatives say that it will do no good because China doesn’t have the program. Xi also pledged aid for low-income nations, a request that President Obama made to Congress for the international Green Climate Fund. During the first 100 days of the new Congress, 81 of the 144 Senate bills proposed increasing pollution.

The biggest shocker to the nation last week, however, was Boehner’s resignation.  He claimed that it was to meliorate the turmoil, but there is no doubt that his action will heat up the firestorm between Tea Party and more establishment Republicans. A bill to pass the budget may avert a government shutdown on October 1—just four days away—but the issue will arise in late November because the bill is good for only two months. A new speaker may actually support a government shutdown at that time.

The question now is who will be selected to be two heartbeats from being President of the United States. Josh Israel has named four likely suspects:

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): The House Republican Majority Leader would be the obvious choice in saner times despite his lack of political ability. Although he seemed more moderate toward immigration, his opposition to fight climate change gives him some cred among Tea Party members. McCarthy is notable for being the least experienced person of all time for the position that he holds. During the almost decade he’s spent in Congress, McCarthy has managed to pass only two bills that he sponsored, both of them renaming places in his district.

Steve Scalise (R-LA): The third-ranking Republican in the House spoke at a white supremacist rally in 2002 and was one of a few legislators to oppose making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a Louisiana holiday in 2004. He claims that immigration reform would “actually force” non-citizens who did not want to become citizens “onto an amnesty track.” This fan of debt-ceiling crises has refused to deny he wants to impeach President Obama.

Jim Jordan (R-OH): A major supporter of defunding the Department of Homeland Security also pushed to overturn DC’s same-gender marriage law and stated that the country’s founders wanted to prohibit abortion. Jordan is fully committed to defunding Planned Parenthood even if it shuts down the government.

Jeb Hensarling (R-TX): The defender of recessions as “a part of freedom” also denounces Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as “cruel Ponzi schemes.” In the House since 2003, he has the longest tenure of these four representatives. His opposition to raising the debt ceiling could also lead to more government shutdowns. As co-chair of the failed 2011 “supercommittee,” he promised to oppose “any penny of increased static revenue.”

Tea Partiers don’t want any of these possibilities, but they haven’t found anyone with enough votes to overcome the above “less radical” candidates above. Many of the crazies want the position; time will tell. While the House is in chaos, GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, supported by other ultra-conservatives, called for Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to step down as Senate Majority Leader. The congressional Republicans are in for a rocky fall season.

February 28, 2014

Conflict of Interest, in the Eye of the Beholder

When is a conflict of interest not a conflict? Today it’s when the State Department says it isn’t. After the agency hired the Environmental Resources Management (ERM) as its consulting firm to review environmental effects of the Keystone XL pipeline, people complained about the connections of the consulting firm, but the agency’s inspector general investigated and found—no problem!

The State Department’s has again reported that the environmental impact study commissioned to ERM regarding the trans-country pipeline found no significant climate impacts. That’s the study from a company listing TransCanada as a client just a year before the Keystone contract while telling the State Department that it had been at least five years since ERM worked with the company building the pipeline. ERM didn’t mention that one of its divisions, ERM West, worked with TransCanada on the Alaska Pipeline Project until last summer—after ERM was hired to write the report.

Until the State Department was asked about the conflict of interest, ERM didn’t say anything about its bidding for contracts in Canada that could include two new TransCanada projects. As recently as 2010, ERM was part of a lobbying group, the International Carbon Black Association, that a subsidiary (Cancarb) of TransCanada owns—a company that includes major Keystone XL proponents and potential beneficiaries. ERM also failed to identify its membership in several trade organizations that support the pipeline, including the Western Energy Alliance, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

ERM must have understood its conflict of interest when the firm suddenly removed the names of subcontractors formerly working on TransCanada projects from its website. Later the names reappeared without their affiliations to TransCanada.

Although ERM was paid to prepare the environmental impact report, another firm, one that is outright owned by a tar sands developer, actually did the assessment. Jacobs Engineering’s most recent contract was with Canadian oil sands leader Suncor.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) has asked the Government Accountability Office to do a separate investigation into State’s process for vetting contractors, and he says the GAO is planning to act on his request. He added that the inspector general’s report focused on “whether the State Department followed its own flawed process for selecting a third-party contractor. The fact that the answer is ‘yes’ doesn’t address any outstanding concerns about the integrity of ERM’s work, the State Department’s in-house ability to evaluate its quality or whether the process itself needs to be reformed.”

Supporters of the Keystone XL think that it will solve their dual needs for jobs and low-cost energy. The short film “Keystone PipeLIES Exposed” explains how the Keystone XL project fails to do either one. Big business has highly inflated the number of jobs created, and most of the smaller number of jobs disappears after construction ends. Even with a rosy view, the State Department concluded that 3,900 direct jobs would be created during pipeline construction; at its completion, there would be 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs.

The pipeline would most likely increase fuel prices in the United States while generating no taxes from TransCanada after it files a “Master Limited Partnership.” Tar sands oil shipped to the Midwest current sells for about $70 per barrel, much less than the $100 a barrel possible on the open market. As the map shows, the oil will move through the U.S., be refined, and then ship off to the international market which has a higher yield than in this country.

pipeline

The United States gets higher fuel prices and almost no jobs, but it does get leaking pipelines across the country that destroy the nation’s water, especially in the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest freshwater supply in the middle of the country. As the leaks devastate the U.S. agriculture, taxpayers pay to clean up the spills because tar sands oil is exempt from corporations having to pay into the oil spill liability trust fund.

In its environmental impact, the State Department certified that the pipeline’s additional carbon emissions would be the equivalent of an additional 300,000 cars on the road. The contractor most closely linked to TransCanada reported, however, that this was negligible because TransCanada wouldn’t stop drilling.

So who benefits from the United States destroying its food supply, water, and environment? China, according to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). Now that the Chinese have our manufacturing jobs, they need raw materials and energy. Canada is the most stable country to provide energy, and people in the United States might be willing to let the oil pass through our country into China—all with no benefits for anyone in the U.S. China annually imports about $50 billion in goods from the United States and exports about $350 billion in mostly manufactured goods to the United States. Each year, China also buys about $300 billion in U.S. assets, mostly U.S. Treasuries.

China has put about $30 billion of the trade surplus into Canadian tar sands. All the oil that passes through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has to be sold in the U.S., but the Keystone XL Pipeline is permitted a tax-free zone to provide Chinese energy independence. The Koch brothers, who own the refineries, benefit; the people of the United States don’t.

If people in the United States were intelligent and far-seeing, we would keep the environment clean and sell food to China when they can no longer grow it. Their air pollution is so bad that it is like a nuclear winter. The slowing photosynthesis in plants may greatly decrease the possibility of growing food. This week’s smog in Beijing and large parts of six northern provinces is so bad that the PM 2.5 particles can enter the bloodstream through the lungs. A safe level is 25. Flights are grounded, highways are closed, and tourists are kept at home. Air pollutants adhering to greenhouse surfaces have cut the light inside by 50 percent.

Buildings are seen through thick haze in Guangzhou

In a first for China, a man in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province near Beijing, is suing the local environmental protection bureau for failing to rein in the smog. Li Guixin is also asking for compensation because of economic losses.

The Keystone XL pipeline has received publicity because it goes from one country to another, requiring presidential approval. Within the United States, however, pipeline construction is not inhibited in the same way. In the five years since the first TransCanada application, the 589-mile Flanagan South, moving through about 1,950 wetlands and waterways including the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, has been approved because of a loophole allowing companies to fast-track pipeline projects and bypass environmental protection laws. About half the length of Keystone XL, Flanagan South carries tar sands and Bakken crude from Pontiac (IL) to Cushing (OK).

FlanaganSouth

Although each part of the pipeline could not exist without the rest of it, the Army Corps of Engineers allowed each water crossing to be separate for the purpose of permits, thus avoiding any environmental review. A federal judge who heard a lawsuit last week will decide within the next few weeks whether the Sierra Club’s claims have merit. The same loophole was used on the southern half of Keystone XL, which began shipping oil last month despite the pipelines’ leaks.

Enbridge, the company in charge of Flanagan South, was responsible for the 1,000,000-gallon spill in July 2010 when tar sands crude went into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. Oil is still being removed from the area after Enbridge missed its EPA deadline to finish cleanup by the end of 2013.

Even conservative Nebraskans understand the danger of pipelines crossing lands vital for agriculture and water. After Gov. Dave Heineman approved the Keystone XL route through the state, a judge struck down his decision because it forced landowners to sell their property. Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled that only the state Public Service Commission can give TransCanada eminent domain powers. The commission was created in the 1890s to stop governors from giving political favors to railroad executives.

Jane Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, said,”TransCanada learned a hard lesson today: Never underestimate the power of family farmers and ranchers protecting their land and water.” We need more Jane Kleebs to protect land and water across the United States.

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