Nel's New Day

April 13, 2018

Can DDT’s Airstrikes Cover Up His Problems?

After a very bad week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—a fire in Trump Tower, search warrants taking a large number of documents from his lawyer Michael Cohen, the release of information about his attempt to cover up his affairs through lawsuits, former FBI director James Comey’s anti-DDT book hitting the airwaves—DDT ordered military attacks against Syria’s president in opposition to advice from his own generals. His reason in a short speech late Friday was the killing of civilians through chemical attacks.

DDT cited the horrifying ways that people died this month in an attack, but three-fourths of 6,047 civilians killed by the U.S. in the Middle East, mostly Iraq and Syria, during the past four years were under his “watch.” Until John Bolton came into the White House this week, DDT said he gave military generals “total authorization” to decide the military operations. The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the president to begin an armed conflict without congressional authorization; a 1973 law reinforced this constitutional position. Yet Congress passed a law, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, allowing the U.S. president to take action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. In the past 17 years, presidents have used this law to attack Afghanistan, Cuba, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Turkey, and Congress refuses to curb an elected president the right to attack countries whenever they want.

The question about DDT’s air strikes, which could cause World War III if Russia carries through with its threats of retaliation, came from DDT’s weeks of temper tantrums. They started with the FBI raid on the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, DDT’s longtime attorney “fixer,” and the seizure of records about his clients and personal finances, including tax returns, as well as his computer and phone.  Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. DDT, who led the birther conspiracy of President Obama for at least five years while he was in office and as recently as last November, continues to call the investigation of the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt.”

DDT raged for hours after the raid, attacking AG Jeff Sessions and special investigator Robert Mueller, yet Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein turned the raid over to FBI agents and prosecutors in New York. Several other high-level DOJ people had to sign off on the search warrants with no advance notice to Cohen, indicating strong evidence because these warrants were used instead of a subpoena.

Cohen also helped out DDT’s associates, arranging a $1.6 million deal late last year for a former pregnant Playboy model on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a major financial supporter for DDT and a married man. Cohen and Broidy are both deputy national finance chairmen for the RNC, and last month Broidy hosted a fundraiser for DDT’s 2020 presidential campaign. He also worked with George Nadar who is cooperating with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen had a tendency to tape conversations with his associates, and the FBI may now have these recordings.

Another object of DDT’s fury this week was Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, is overwhelming the media, and DDT called Comey a “slime ball, also writing, “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!” The memoir is available to the public on Tuesday.

Mueller has asked a Virginia judge for 35 blank subpoenas for Paul Manafort’s trial that begins July 10—witnesses to be filled in later. Manafort’s lawyers are trying to block business and finance papers from a storage area that a former Manafort employee showed the FBI last May. Both Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are listed as contacts for the lease.

Since the search warrant was executed on Cohen, DDT has decided he won’t be interviewed by Mueller which could move up Mueller’s release of an obstruction of justice report regarding DDT’s intent on firing former FBI Director James Comey, DDT’s role in writing the public statement that lied about a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Russians, and DDT’s suggestion of his pardoning grand jury witnesses before they testified against him, and DDT’s pressuring AG Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russian investigation. Mueller would probably send a confidential report to Rosenstein, who could decide whether to make the report public and send the findings to Congress.

The biggest question about Mueller is whether DDT can fire him. DDT thinks he can, but according to law he can fire only the person in the DOJ who refuses to fire Mueller. That and DDT’s going to war around the world are the two greatest concerns today in the United States.

DDT’s pick for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, struggled during today’s confirmation hearings.  His hawkish attitude for regime change in North Korea and opposition to diplomacy with Iran disappeared in his responses advocating diplomacy over military action and independence from president despite their close relationship. He faked answers and avoided questions, claiming a bad memory, and failed to recognize that the agreement with Iran involves the UK, France, and Germany. Pompeo also refused to say that he disagreed with DDT’s constant attacks on Mueller. Called out about his associations with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, Pompeo said that he couldn’t remember everything he had said during his 54 years. He opposed marriage equality but said that he has “respect for every individual.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could give Pompeo a floor vote even if he can’t pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because member Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is opposed to Pompeo. Some vulnerable Democrats from red states may feel pressured to vote to confirm, but Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), up for re-election this year, said:

“I am voting NO on Pompeo for Secretary of State because our top diplomat should believe in diplomacy. He has an alarming tendency towards military provocation and brinkmanship.”

To tell associates such as Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn that he will save them, DDT pardoned Scooter Libby yesterday. on Thursday. A jury convicted Libby of four felonies, including obstruction of justice and perjury before a grand jury, in connection to his revealing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame when he was VP Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Former FBI director James Comey, fired by DDT, helped convict Libby of lying under oath to the FBI about leaking classified information when Comey was Deputy Attorney General. George W. Bush had commuted Libby’s sentence of 30 months in prison and $250,000 fine but twice refused to pardon him. Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, tweeted:

“So what’s the message here? Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?”

Scott Pruitt just stays in the news, making DDT look bad. This article, repeated on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, describes how Pruitt’s condo renters changed the locks to get rid of him.

Information came out about how the Trump Organization threatened Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, with violating an investment treaty between Panama and the U.S. if he supports a court-order eviction notice for DDT’s management of Trump International Hotel Panama. The majority owner claims he won his case in firing the Trump Organization, and the name was removed. The Trump Organization refuses to admit defeat. The letter insinuates that the U.S. government will force Panama to protect DDT’s business.

DDT tweeted about his “well built hotel,” but one man died and six firefighters were injured in a fire on the 50th floor. There was no sprinkler system because DDT said they were too expensive, and residents were not told to evacuate.

DDT’s other business is going downhill in putting his name on other people’s products. Within three years, he has lost 17 of 19 companies that pay him to produce or distribute his branded consumer items. The only ones left are a Panamanian company selling bed linens and home goods and a Turkish company selling furniture. And the name isn’t even on the outside of the product. Even the DDT-branded urine test is gone, and the last items are being sold off at discount prices—for example, cologne down to $9.99 per ounce from $42.

DDT is losing a major constituency—older, white, educated voters. They now support Democrats over Republicans by two points after going for Republicans by ten points in 2016. That 12-point change is frightening Republicans, especially after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) decision to not run for re-election in 2018, especially because this demographic tends to be reliable voters.

Another demographic is moving away from DDT—Southerners. Fifty-one percent of voters in the South disapprove while 48 percent approves of his performance. The poll also shows a 55-percent support from Southerners for same-gender marriage, and 69 percent think that undocumented immigrants should be able to get legal status in the U.S. Mississippi is sticking with DDT at 57 percent approval rating.

After a really hard week, DDT may hope that a big media explosion of air strikes in Syria might help his ratings. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the action a “one time shot”—at least until DDT gets more bad news and looks for a way to cover it up.

 

April 8, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven, Bomb and Revoke

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Two days ago, on the 100th anniversary of U.S. entering World War I, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered the bombing of the Shayrat Airfield in Homs, Syria. The $80-million raid was a knee-jerk reaction from a bully now desperate to create his own 9/11 moment to raise his ratings. The Syrian attack on its own people was horrific, but no more than what Bashar Al-Assad has done to them in the past when he killed hundreds of thousands with starve and surrender, repeatedly bombed hospitals, and carried out two savage chemical weapons attacks. Yet DDT did nothing until his approval ratings were barely better than those of Congress.

Before the attack, senior officials and foreign countries were notified so that they could escape, leaving innocent civilians, at least nine of whom were killed including four children, to suffer DDT’s “presidential” moment. The Syrian military evacuated personnel and moved equipment, and the airstrikes avoided runways and bunkers with chemical supplies. U.S. targets were concrete bunkers sheltering planes or helicopters, fuel tanks, and warehouses probably storing convention arms, supplies, and spare parts. The damage, little in terms of Assad’s overall force, may have been less than currently assessed with fuel and ammunition readily available in the Middle East. Jets took off the day after the U.S. bombing for airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun, the site of Assad’s most recent attack, and seven other town, again killing several civilians.

DDT has announced that this is a one-time deal, leaving Assad to further persecute his people, and DDT’s “travel ban” goes to court on May 15 so that he can keep Syrians out of the U.S. Russia reported that Syrian authorities are searching for 36 Tomahawk missiles that missed the target and fell outside the base and promised to help Syria strengthen its air defenses by launching one of its biggest deployments in decades. Yet DDT’s priority, according to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, is a regime change by removing Assad.

DDT has no policy except to criticize past unsuccessful interventions—forcing Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991; conflicts in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo; and removal of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The United States is still in Afghanistan and Iraq in the longest war of U.S. history, 14 years old as of March 20. The only past successes have been to create more terrorists, just as this bombing will do. Either DDT will be satisfied with raising his ratings in a one-time shot, or he will be in the midst of the mess that he blamed on President Obama.

A serious question is whether DDT’s actions are constitutional because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. Presidents have been using authority for attacks in the Middle East from the 2001 authorization for presidents to use the military against any entity that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” DDT can claim that he is using the deal that President Obama brokered with the UN, but that resolution prevented military action unless authorized by its Security Council. In his speech following the bombing, DDT used the “national interest” argument which Republicans will repeat ad infinitum on the Sunday morning news shows. Following the U.S. Constitution, however, is not important to DDT or the Republicans who want to “de-operationalize” the United States.

Far-right conservatives are unhappy with DDT’s bombing; they believed DDT when he said that he would “put America first.” In the American Conservative, Daniel Larison explains that position. Today’s protests in ten U.S. cities compare DDT’s bombing to the start of the Iraq “War,” preemptive strikes because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. As of yet, there is no proof that this attack used chemicals just as Iraq had no nuclear weapons.

While GOP members of Congress disagreed about the constitutionality of DDT’s bombing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked when DDT planned to do something about jobs, infrastructure, trade, and other promises that he made during his campaign. About DDT, Schumer said:

“Instead, he has focused on increasing health care costs while taking away health benefits, signing resolutions benefitting big corporate special interests and polluters, and signing divisive and disruptive Executive Orders.”

The Washington Post addresses 13 questions surrounding DDT’s attack on Syria.

Bombing isn’t DDT’s only destructive activity during the past week, some of them against “innocent babies”:

U.S. Children At Risk from Poisoning: “Innocent babies” in the U.S. are at risk because DDT’s hand-picked EPA director, Scott Pruitt, declared the pesticide chlorpyrifos to be safe. The research about the dangers of the substance comes from Pruitt’s own agency, but he gave Dow Chemical the green light to make more money with its use. No one near farms—workers, children, and consumers—can avoid exposure because the poison is in the air, soil, and food. Infants and children are most vulnerable they cannot assimilate the poison that drifts at least 300 feet from the fields. Effects are slower autoimmune disorders, slower motor development , attention problems, reversal of gender differences, and other neurological effects. Exposure during pregnancy retards the mental development of children, and most home use was banned in 2001 in the U.S.

Killing Wildlife: Unlimited slaughter of wolves, bears, and other “predatory” animals on federally-protected national preserves is a good idea, according to the bill that DDT signed this week. The legislation permits killing the animals from airplanes and helicopters, while baiting them, during hibernation, and in steel-jawed leghold traps and dens—including baby animals. As DDT’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric well realize, this encourages “sport” hunting for trophy kills.

Repeal of Equal Pay Act: The day before Equal Pay Day, highlighting the discrepancies between women’s and men’s wages, DDT signed the repeal of the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order that required companies with federal contracts to be accountable to fourteen labor laws. The order protected women in the work place by mandating transparency in salaries and claims for sexual assault and discrimination. Many of these women are responsible for feeling “little babies.” More information.

Slowing Job Growth: DDT took credit for the job growth in January and February, but he’s said nothing about the March numbers that added only 98,000 jobs, a ten-month low and well below expectation of 180,00. President Obama’s policies brought 11.5 million new jobs and 75 straight months of job growth; DDT’s second full month in office dropped the number since his reduction of regulations and GOP “tax reforms.” Republicans in Congress hope to increase jobs by giving 99.6 percent of the cuts to the top 1 percent. Watch to see if DDT blames President Obama, calls the jobs report “fake news,” or just ignores it.

No Internet Privacy: DDT also signed a highly unpopular bill (80 percent Democratic opposition, 75 percent Republican opposition, and 69 percent independents opposition) behind closed doors. The new law allows cable and telecom companies to secretly sell users’ data, an action making money for big corporations.

Salary Donation: DDT donated $78,000 of his quarterly salary to the Park Service, about half of what taxpayers pay to support his wife and son every day in New York City. DDT doesn’t need this “pittance” because people are paying a fortune to curry favor with him by staying at his hotels and resorts—demonstrated by this tweet from Georgia Amabassador Kaha Imnadze about DDT’s Washington hotel:

“Great #hotel and so far the best service I’ve seen in the United States! Keep it up!”

In another violation of the emoluments clause about not taking gifts, money, or anything else from foreign governments, DDT changed his trust in early February to receive regular financial reports on his businesses and give him the right to pull money from these businesses any time he wishes.

Business is booming at the Trump-branded properties where he spent ten of his first twelve weekends after inauguration, half of them at Mar-a-Lago.

Ultimate DDT Distraction: Accusing former National Security Adviser Susan Rice of trying to “unmask”— reveal names of—DDT transition members who communicated with foreigners under surveillance failed because no one believed it. DDT’s solution to moving the discussion away from his Russian involvement was bombing Syria. In 2013, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused President Obama of wanting a “mere demonstration” when he went to Congress, asking for military action. DDT didn’t bother to ask before he bombed. He articulated his reason for bombing in 2012 when he tweeted: “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.” In 2013, DDT tweeted his opposition: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long-term conflict? Obama needs congressional approval.”

One piece of legislation that DDT would like to avoid is the budget. If Congress doesn’t pass it by April 29, the government shuts down. Congress has three days to solve the problem when they get back from a two-week recess facing down those pesky constituents. Meanwhile DDT has no meetings scheduled today because—it’s Saturday?

February 22, 2017

Deportation Guidelines Chaotic, Destructive to All

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) timing is suspect in his attempt to distract people from the horrific things he does. On the same day that he announced he was not racist—trying to cover for his avoidance of the topic since he was inaugurated–his administration released new draconian guidelines for deportation and the construction of his border wall. The next day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico to mend fences that DDT had put up between him and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

It’s the same approach that DDT used on January 25 when he gave out his first executive orders on immigration and the wall, leading the Mexican president to cancel his plans to visit the United States within a few days. Since then, DDT has threatened to send U.S. military into Mexico to battle crime because Peña Nieto couldn’t handle it. This conversation followed DDT’s frequent campaign accusations that Mexico deliberately sent their drug dealers and rapists to the U.S.

With the new guidelines for deportation, DDT seems to think that any undocumented person in the United States just gets dropped on the other side of the border, no matter their country of origin. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), one of a group of U.S. senators visiting Mexico last weekend, said that migrants to the U.S. are largely not from Mexico but crossing the country from other parts of Latin America. He said that the U.S. needs Mexico’s cooperation to deal with that problem. DDT’s radical anti-Mexico rhetoric has energized progressive Mexican political parties, worrying business leaders on both sides of the border, and thousands of people rallied against DDT in Mexico City a few days ago.

According to the new guidelines, anyone with an immigration violation can be deported. No longer will the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency prioritize the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants who commit serious offenses. No “classes or categories of removal aliens” will be exempt from potential enforcement, according to the ICE website. Undocumented workers can be deported for paying taxes if they are using a false Social Security number. Immigrants who have completed their jail sentences are on the deportation list.

The old guidelines subjected immigrants to “expedited removal” without pleading their cases in front of immigration judges if they were caught within 14 days of entering the country without authorization and within 100 miles of the two contiguous countries of Canada and Mexico. New guidelines changed that time limit to two years and allows officials bypass due process protections such as court hearings during that time.

Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their home countries to seek humanitarian relief will be affected by the new guidelines. International law requires that these non-citizens have the right to make a case that they left these countries to avoid persecution or death, but they will be deported if they cannot immediately present documents explaining a “credible” fear to apply for asylum. The 59,692 unaccompanied children who came across the southern U.S. border in 2016 face this deportation. New guidelines indicate that children reunited with their parents in the U.S. will no longer be “unaccompanied” and can be deported.

ICE can take away children from parents legally in the U.S. who smuggle them into the country under the pretense of child abuse by submitting them to this process and be referred for criminal prosecution. They may also face charges of human trafficking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had unsuccessfully tried to persuade past AG Loretta Lynch to follow this procedure, but she is gone and Sessions is in charge.

Another part of the guidelines restores the Secure Communities Program, allowing ICE to get help from local law enforcement for detaining and deporting immigrants, making these officials de facto immigration agents. It also terminates the Priority Enforcement Program that prioritized serious crimes for deportation and asked for leniency for immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.

DHS plans to hire 10,000 or more additional agents, expand the number of detention facilities, and create an ICE office to help families of those killed by undocumented workers. DDT has not identified the source of billions of dollars required for these guidelines. Undocumented immigrants will have their crimes publicized, and they will be stripped of privacy protections. Although Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, are not to be targeted unless they commit crimes, ICE agents have been violating this order.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new guidelines show that “the No. 1 priority is that people who pose a threat to our country are immediately dealt with.” Yet crime is lower among immigrants than native-born people of the United States.

Lawyers and advocates for immigrants said the new policies could still be challenged in court, and some courts in states such as Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are not holding immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond the scheduled release from detention. Since at least 1886, courts have used the 14th Amendment to give some constitutional equality and fair treatment to non-citizens. Many states and cities are not using law enforcement workers to identify undocumented immigrants, a federal responsibility.

Two former Senate aides for Sessions drafted the plan with no input from career DHS policy staffers. Much of it came from a 1996 law disregarded as either unenforceable or absurd, including the part that returns people “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived.” The memo states that the U.S. can save money that way. Nothing was said about the security problems along the border as undocumented immigrants are pushed back and forth.

DDT said that he would send back only criminals, but the redefinition of crime includes everyone in the nation who came in without a proper visa or overstayed a visit. The idea to hire 10,000 new agents overlooks the fact that the U.S. can’t fill the existing positions. Sixty percent of applicants to the Border Patrol fail the mandated polygraph, and those who are hired aren’t sent into the field for 18 months. As for using existing law enforcement officials, police departments in the largest cities don’t participate because of their belief that it erodes the trust between officers and the communities that they are protecting.

Beyond the destruction of families and lives, the new guidelines will erase much of the labor pool for farm workers, especially in the West and Southwest. About 57 percent of the nation’s entire agricultural workforce is undocumented. Other industries—meatpacking, building, healthcare, restaurant and retail service, for example—are dependent on immigrant labor. Immigrants comprise 40 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy industry workers and almost one in three U.S. farming and fishing workers is from Mexico. The 8 million undocumented immigrants who are employed comprise over five percent of all workers and are clustered in low-wage industries, frequently making under minimum wage.

Alabama has already experienced the devastation from fewer undocumented immigrants after Gov. Robert Bentley, now on the verge of impeachment, signed a law causing these workers to flee the state. Farmers had to plant less because their crops had rotted in the field in the previous year. Georgia did the same thing, and farmers lost 40 percent of their workers along with $140 million worth of crops in just the first year. Farmers tried to hire local workers, but they couldn’t even last a day. Prisoners were sent out to pick crops, but they couldn’t endure the work. Even with visas for farm workers, farmers have had to watch their crops rot because of bureaucratic difficulties.

DDT’s plan could cost the economy $5 trillion in ten years—that’s $500 billion a year—with unauthorized workers contributing about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product.

As the graph in this article shows, no state supports DDT’s deportation plan, even if a majority of their voters supported DDT in the election. Let’s just hope that they remember what DDT is doing in the 2018 election.

DDT’s racist plan concentrates on Hispanics, who comprise fewer than half the number of undocumented immigrants, and stereotypes all of them as criminals. The plan shreds lives, families, communities, and businesses; it is an action that touches everyone in the nation in some way–physically, emotionally, and financially.

As usual, DDT controls people with unsubstantiated fears. He loves creating chaos, and the nation is allowing him to play with the country as he would with his other toys. As usual, he controls people with unsubstantiated fears.

 

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