Nel's New Day

November 11, 2019

DDT’s Record about Veterans Belies Speech about Them

In a normal world, the United States would be honoring the veterans on the day set aside to commemorate their service, and the commander-in-chief would join in the appreciation for their service. We no longer have a “normal world”: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is sitting in the Oval Office.

DDT abused veterans even during his campaign. In January 2016, DDT boycotted a debate other GOP presidential candidates over a feud with Fox’s Megyn Kelly and held his own rally at the same time, ostensibly to raise money for veterans. According to DDT, it was wildly successful, and he claimed he got $6 million. He promised the money to 20 different groups, but a little less than half the money was donated to veterans’ charities, much of it directly from donors to the groups instead of funneled through DDT. The other $3 million apparently stayed with DDT. 

Almost four years later, a few days before Veterans Day, a judge in New York ordered DDT to pay $2 million for misuse of his “charitable” foundation after DDT admitted that his fundraiser for veterans was designed “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” according to Judge Saliann Scarpulla. DDT, however, issued a statement that he was not sorry or wrong after tweeting in June 2018, “I won’t settle this case!” DDT also confessed that he used the charity’s donated money to settle $100,000 in legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole at Mar-a-Lago, $158,000 to resolve a lawsuit over a contest at his golf course, $5,000 for ads promoting his hotels, and more money buying sports memorabilia and his portrait for his personal use. Eight organizations receiving DDT’s fine and the disbanded charity’s funds include Citymeals on Wheels, the United Negro College Fund, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The veterans are still missing their $3 million.

Any other president of the United States would have been pilloried for this fraud, especially targeting veterans. For DDT and his supporters, it’s just another day.

DDT is also trying to undermine the Uniform Code of Military Justice that details non-judicial punishment, Article 15. After Navy Chief Edward Gallagher was charged on ten criminal counts with fellow Navy SEALS as witnesses, DDT took up his cause, claiming that he should be exonerated. In the end, one witness changed his story after not being charged for a crime, and Gallagher lost his trial on one minor charge. For that, he was reduced in grade to E-1. Chief of Naval Operations has now reduced his grade but not his pay grade by keeping him a petty officer first class. In other cases which also either convicted or charged soldiers for violating the military’s rules of engagement and war crimes, DDT plans to “take action” for two convicted war criminals. He has been asked to disapprove findings in one case and dismiss the charges in the other. Any action from DDT will undermine the chain of command and the military justice system. Law-abiding veterans will be insulted if DDT dismisses charges, restores rank, and pardons war criminals.

During his campaign, DDT continued to denigrate honored veterans. He slammed then Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), repeatedly saying, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Gold Star family Khizr and Ghazala Khan were frequent objects of DDT’s attacks after Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic convention. Their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 while he served in Iraq.

Two years ago, he called Myeshia, wife of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson with condolences after Johnson was killed in an ambush in Niger following his being missing for 48 hours. Myeshia said that DDT didn’t even know her husband’s name.

Last year on Veterans Day, DDT traveled to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He was a no-show at a key ceremony because he didn’t want to go in the rain. He has visited the troops overseas only once in almost three years, finding it not “overly necessary,” according to his statement. After Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified to the House about DDT’s July 25 phone call to the Ukrainian president, DDT tried to smear Vindman and called him a “Never Trumper.”  

DDT promised to improve the VA, but he made decisions that hurt the agency. One of them was his vaunted whistleblower protection office that deliberately put whistleblowers at risk. The agency’s inspector general reported that the office not only outed whistleblowers but also kept poorly performing senior officials and didn’t investigate issues in an accurate or unbiased manner. DDT’s political appointments have scorned career employees, according to the report, and acted in ways that demonstrated a lack of respect for people they considered “career” whistleblowers.

In 2017, DDT put three of his Mar-a-Lago buddies as shadow rulers for the VA who threatened health care of veterans: a Palm Beach doctor who provides “concierge” medical care for the wealthy, the chair of Marvel Entertainment, and a lawyer. None of the three has ever served in the U.S. military or the government, and they operated in private with no transparency, accountability, or oversight. Taxpayers provided for the cost of officials’ travel to visit with the triumvirate at Mar-a-Lago. One of the beliefs of the “Mar-a-Lago crowd” was privatization of health care, known to be dangerous for veterans’ wellbeing. They were responsible for the appointment of David Shulkin as VA director and then told him what to do.

Once Shulkin was fired in 2018, DDT wanted to appoint Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the military doctor who gave him the glowing report including the possibility that DDT could live to be 200 years old.  for another 200 years. Any appointment disappeared after allegations that Jackson provided an excessive amount of an opioid to a White House staff member, wrote himself prescriptions for the same medication, distributed the sleep aid Ambien to White House and media members on overseas trips followed by prescriptions for wakefulness, got drunk and “wrecked a government vehicle” after a Secret Service going away party, and demonstrated workplace misconduct. After investigations into his behavior, including an issue with VP Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, and her doctor, Jackson faded away. Now Jackson is back, thinking about a run for the U.S. House after DDT-supporter Texan Mac Thornberry declared it quits for the 2020 election.

Another DDT attack on veterans is to end the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) that helps reunited Filipino veterans and their families while they wait for federal decisions about their visas. These elderly veterans from World War II need support from family members. Over 250,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted in the U.S. army, but fewer were permitted to move to the U.S. and become citizens. Despite their service and sacrifice in World War II, they lack full benefits afforded to military veterans and their families in the states. Japan occupied Manila after they attacked the Philippines on December 7, 1941. The U.S. and Filipino resistance lasted for months, and the Bataan Death March of 60,000-100,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war, leading to death of thousands, was decried as a war crime. During Japan’s occupation of Japan for the entire war, the Philippines suffered almost 60,000 casualties.

Thus far this year, the U.S. House passed 56 bills for veterans, 25 of them bipartisan, after 32 hearings. These include VA mental health funding and suicide prevention, inequitable taxes on military families, and “expanded benefits for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not allowed any of these bills to move through the Senate.

Today, DDT went back to the state he rejected in favor of Florida and gave his first speech in New York City. He had wanted to be Grand Marshall for the Veterans Day parade there for almost 25 years, but that honor goes only to people who served in the military. This Veterans Day is the third one in which he did not follow the presidential tradition of going to Arlington Cemetery.

According to news reports, DDT put on his pretend-president hat and sounded presentable. He listed specific American military victories, recounted stories of individual veterans, and told Gold Star families that he will “stand by your side forever.” The event included a moment of silence and a wreath-laying ceremony honoring fallen soldiers.

DDT’s speech was not uneventful. Like sporting events that he attended, he was greeted with chants of “lock him up” and “impeach and remove.” Signs in the buildings surrounding him in Madison Square including “Convict” and “Impeach” in a Murdoch building. Several dozen people holding banners reading “Traitor, criminal, lock him up!”, “Sexist in chief” and “Impeach Trump” gathered close to Madison Square Park in downtown Manhattan ahead of his speech.

Now that DDT has had the attention he craves, he can continue to send soldiers into places around the world to protect other authoritarians and create more disabled veterans.

March 31, 2018

Census on Front Burner, Legal Decisions Helping People

The worst event in the past week may be the decision to add a question to the census about immigration status. Republicans have eliminated any questions about LGBTQ people, but they plan to add a question that intimidates people to cut down the number of votes for their own purposes. The question hasn’t been asked since 1950 and will start an immense legal and political war. Twelve states are already suing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to stop the interrogatory question.

The Constitution requires a count of “the whole number of persons in each State” and says nothing about citizens. The SCOTUS ruling in Evenwel v. Abbott (2016) unanimously stated that legislative maps should be on total population, not the number of citizens.

Commerce Secretary is already lying about the necessity for “more effective enforcement” of the Voting Rights Act, but it’s already asked on the longer American Community Survey which is used to enforce civil rights laws. The census determines the drawing of congressional districts, the number of electoral votes, and the allocation of $675 billion from 300 programs in federal funding to states and localities. Undercounts deny federal resources and representation to Latino populations and shift power to white, Republican regions. An undercount of just one percent, for example, could cause Texas to lose $300 million in federal monies for children’s insurance and Medicaid.

Common Cause is suing Cambridge Analytica for using foreign workers to orchestrate U.S. elections. A 2014 C.A. report described its management of the campaign for GOP candidate Art Robinson in his campaign against Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in violation of the law.

A federal lawsuit in Utah is contesting the state’s decision to prevent a U.S. citizen from Samoa from running for office. The plaintiffs maintain that the 14th Amendment confers citizenship on people born on U.S. soil, whether state, territory, of the District of Columbia.

Three men, DDT supporters, are on trial in Kansas for plotting to bomb a Muslim apartment building to start a holy war. They hoped to slaughter Muslims to inspire other to follow their lead. Despite the political purpose of the plans, the judge refused the claim, and the defense lawyers are attacking the FBI with the claim that FBI entrapment unfairly persuaded the three men to have the terrorist plot. DDT has been silent about the terrorism.

Environmental groups are suing the EPA for removing a policy imposing limits on hazardous air pollutants from factories, plants, and other major polluters.

DOJ’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco has asked to defend Texas gerrymandering maps found by a lower court to be discriminatory. The case goes to the Supreme Court on April 24.

The day after Stormy Daniels’ interview aired on 60 Minutes, she filed a defamation lawsuit against DDT’s personal attorney Michael Cohen for accusing her of lying about an affair with DDT. Demanding a jury trial, the suit also contains the argument that DDT’s non-disclosure agreement is not valid because Cohen’s payment of $130,000 violated federal law and DDT didn’t sign the agreement. A judge has refused to allow a deposition of DDT.

The Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices.

Legal Decisions:

A federal judge on Friday evening temporarily blocked DDT from stopping abortions for unaccompanied immigrant teenagers who are or will be in federal custody because it violates the girls’ constitutional rights. HHS are not permitted to obstruct access to abortion, counseling, medical appointments, or other pregnancy-related care.

A federal judge refused to permit an ExxonMobil lawsuit intended to stop New York and Massachusetts’ probe into the company’s misleading investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change.

A federal judge refused to allow a conservative group to purge voter lists of eligible voters.

An appellate judge told Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) that he had to hold an election for empty legislative seats in the third ruling this week, and he gave up. Walker attacked Eric Holder and other Democrats on Twitter but set up the special elections for June 12 to fill seats vacated last year.

Washington, D.C. and Maryland may proceed with a lawsuit against DDT, according to a federal judge. The case alleges that DDT’s business dealings violate the constitutional ban on “emoluments,” payments to the president from states and foreign governments.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris told government officials they must consider climate change in mapping out infrastructure and land use in the Wyoming/Montana Powder River Basin that produces 40 percent of the nation’s coal. He told the BLM that they had to work with environmental groups for future development in the area.

A federal judge cited DDT’s “racially charged language” when he ruled that a lawsuit to protect DACA participants may continue. Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis pointed out that DDT’s many “racial slurs” and “epithets” created a “plausible inference” that his ending DACA violated the constitutional equal protection clause.

Firings/Appointments:

This week saw the disappearance of another Cabinet member. Two days after DDT said he wasn’t firing VA Secretary David Shulkin, he did. Pete Hegseth, Fox & Friends co-host, will have to wait for a DDT appointment; DDT says that he has picked Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, his personal physician who said glowing things about DDT, as the replacement for acting secretary. The media is now revealing that Hegseth has a tremendous amount of baggage that could keep him from confirmed.

Shulkin is not going quietly. He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times and has appeared on various television programs about how DDT surrounded him with staffers working to privatize the VA in opposition to the positions of veterans advocacy groups and lawmakers concerned about the influence of the Koch brothers and other far-right people to destroy public healthcare. Shulkin pointed out that private health care can’t even take care of its own clients now, let alone the number of patients and their specialized needs coming from veterans dumped onto the system.

The VA Secretary was ostensibly fired because of his travel expenses, a claim made invalid by the inordinate costs of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt. Pruitt paid $40,000 cost to take seven aides staff and an undisclosed number of protective staff to Morocco about the nation’s interest in importing liquified nitrogen gas. The Department of Energy and that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are in charge of LNG exports, not the EPA. Last June, Pruitt’s expenses to the G7 environmental summit were $120,000. While there, Pruitt attending one meeting and left early. For much of his first year in Washington, Pruitt lived in a condo owned by co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist which includes LNG exports. He paid about $1,000 a month in the fifth most expensive city in the country and in an area where rentals go for about $5,000 a month.

William Charles “Chad” McIntosh, DDT’s pick to head the EPA office of International and Tribal Affairs, comes from the Ford Motor Company where he failed to stop an industrial spill contaminating groundwater with a carcinogen chemical in a Michigan suburb. McIntosh may be deposed in a lawsuit. He also has a background in rolling back Michigan’s environmental protections.

Hope Hicks may be gone from the White House, but DDT now has Caroline Sunshine (left). The 22-year-old Disney Channel star from Shake It Up is a press assistant. (Remember when DDT said that Stormy Daniels, below, wasn’t his type?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christine Harbin, another anti-clean energy fighter, has been appointed as senior adviser for external affairs in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, primarily dealing with the electricity grid. She worked for the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity since 2012 and, before that, for the Koch-funded ALEC, always in a position to support pollution.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) failed to keep Matthew Masterson on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission despite his cyber abilities to fight Russian meddling in elections, but he’s now been hired for the DHS cyber wing to work on election security. State election officials have praised his ability and leadership.

People are beginning to notice the environment: 59 percent rate quality of environment negatively, 40 percent positively; 61 percent say quality of the environment getting worse, 33 percent say better.

DDT is wasting money by doing away with regulations. In the past decade, the government made from $287 billion to $911 billion each year from regulations while spending from $78 billion and $115 billion to implement them. DDT’s goal is to eliminate 75 percent of the regulations that keep people safe. For years, I’ve asked a Republican friend which regulations she wants to get rid of; she never has had an answer.

Note from yesterday’s post on Laura Ingraham: the conservative host is taking a break from her Fox program, “The Ingraham Angle.” Thus far, at least 16 large companies have dropped their advertising after her attack on the Parkland (FL) survivor, leaving only IBM on Friday night.Now North Carolina Rep. Beverly Boswell (R) used her Facebook page to accuse student protesters at the Washington, D.C. rally of wanting to “murder” gun owners.

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