Nel's New Day

June 8, 2018

DDT: Week 72 – The Dictator

Some people have taken offence at my use of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) , but the term now appears more frequently. From South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel editorial board:

“A dictator occupies the White House. That word should not be uttered lightly, but it defines with precision any head of state who, like Donald Trump, declares himself to be above the law.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer alluded to the “dictator” in DDT:

“[Trump] said he had the absolute power to pardon himself, and then a few minutes later he said that the special counsel is unconstitutional. He’s 0 for 2 on the Constitution. We do not have a dictatorship; the Founding Fathers did not want a king.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (R-HA) said that DDT “thinks he is a dictator and king” and “afraid” of the Mueller investigation results.

DDT has proved his dictatorship by tweeting:

“I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

And “… the appointment of the Special Councel [sic] is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” [Congress passed a law allowing this ?

Sunday DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that DDT could shoot former FBI director James B. Comey in the Oval Office and not be indicted for any crime because he is the president. “In no case can [DDT] be subpoenaed or indicted.” In 1998, when Bill Clinton was president, Giuliani said that if the president is subpoenaed to testify, “he’s gotta do it. He has no choice.” The 1998 Giuliani also said:

“Under the criminal law, everyone should be treated the same. And I know there are some people that say the president should be treated stricter. … as far as the criminal law is concerned, the president is a citizen.”

About Giuliani’s comment that DDT can pardon himself, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said:

“If I were president of the United States and I had a lawyer that said I could pardon myself, I think I would hire a new lawyer.

Giuliani also trashed Stormy Daniels because she is a porn queen and sells her body. Megyn Kelly answered:

“Melania Trump is classy and gorgeous and I really admire her. But she has posed nude for GQ magazine back in 2000. And so to suggest that Trump would never respect, and that Giuliani wouldn’t respect, anybody who’s ever sold her body for sexual exploitation—I’m not comparing the two, posing nude is not the same as being a porn star. But, come on! Being an adult film star does not make you a liar.”

Not an elegant statement, but clear. And it’s not an attack on DDT’s wife; she did sell her body. DDT asked for the photographs, and the shoot was listed on his first White House website as one of her greatest achievements.

On Tuesday, DDT repeated his attacks on AG Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from any Russian issues and dumped on the DOJ Inspector General:

“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey….”

DDT is pressuring Michael Horowitz to release negative information, but early reports about the investigation indicate no pattern of deception or intent to make personal use of classified information. Horowitz also concluded Comey should not have publicly re-opened the investigation into Clinton’s emails just ten days before the election. The report makes Rod Rosenstein’s cover story more accurate, but DDT has already negated that excuse for firing Comey by claiming that it was because of Russia. Thus the report provides more support for the belief that DDT’s election is illegitimate.

By Thursday, DDT accused President Obama of illegally transferring money to Iran and demanded an investigation. A two-year investigation by the Republican staff of a Senate panel released a report the day before DDT’s demands. It found no illegal action in arranging for Iran to obtain its own money in part of the Iran agreement. WaPo provided extensive details about the arrangement and gave DDT four Pinocchios for lying.

DDT claimed that Robert Mueller’s investigation has cost $17 million (equivalent to five weekends for DDT to play golf at Mar-a-Lago). Yet an examination shows that the costs were much less. In reporting costs, Mueller included DOJ employee costs that existed without the investigation that brings actual expenditures down to $7.7 million—a little above two weekends for DDT—compared to the $110.4 million paid to investigate Bill Clinton. No other investigator has added in costs for salary and benefit costs that would be paid anyway. The costs of investigating Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton $100 million—each!—without consideration for inflation or inhouse costs, and Congress is still investigating Hillary Clinton. DDT’s accusations that Mueller’s investigation costs up to $20 million and are exorbitant win him two Pinocchios for lying.

Unhappy about going to the G-7 summit in Canada, DDT left late for the Friday meeting and will skip the Saturday sessions to head to Singapore for his meeting with Kim Jong-Un. He’s in the midst of a contentious situation after putting tariffs on most of the allies, especially those represented at the summit, and he gave a full-throated support for the reinstatement of Russia, the country that meddled in U.S. elections, to the G-7 before he left for the summit. Russia was expelled from the G-8 in 2014 after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. At that time, the group became the G-7; DDT’s behavior may bring the group down to G-6. Putin is gloating about what he calls the U.S. “sanctions” on its allies, saying that it vastly decreases U.S. dominance in the world.

DDT has spent the week alienating allies, beginning with his response to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about how U.S. tariffs are for national security:

“Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?”

The British burned down the White House in 1812 when Canada wasn’t even a nation because the U.S. wanted tariff-free trade with Britain. Emmanuel Macron recommended a general rebuke at the summit to the U.S. and suggested that foreign leaders stop engaging with the U.S. until DDT is gone.

DDT’s trade wars have extended to North America, Europe, and large Asian countries. After Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with China’s top economic official, Vice premier Liu He, China announced that its nation won’t be expanding imports from the U.S. if DDT follows through on his threat to tax billions of dollars of Chinese goods. Meanwhile China is glorying in the possibility that it will assume the past dominance that the United States has experienced. The World Bank warns that DDT’s trade wars can cause a decline as bad as or worse than the 2008 financial crisis, and congressional members are proposing a bill to block DDT’s tariff power. In its cover, The Economist indicated its concern about DDT’s foreign policy.

In his first 500 days, DDT has made only five international trips, the most recent one almost six months ago for a day at the World Economic Forum. VP Mike Pence was sent to meet with Latin American leaders in April, but Pence’s going to Canada was not an option after DDT and the GOP started worrying about Pence having more power than he does.

A DDT excuse about not wanting to face the allies he alienated at G-7 is getting ready for meeting Kim Jong-Un in Singapore. Reasons that this excuse is bogus:

  • DDT has done nothing to get ready to the meeting except its spectacle.
  • DDT has not convened any Cabinet-level meeting about the summit has been convened, indicating his reliance on improvisation at the meeting.
  • DDT has not presided over national security council officials for discussions.
  • DDT thinks he doesn’t need to prepare. DDT said, “I don’t think I have to prepare very much…. It’s about attitude.”

The meetings with Kim may not last long: DDT keeps saying that he’ll leave if he doesn’t immediately get what he wants from North Korea.

Melania Trump reappeared after 25 days and sat quietly next to DDT during his 16-minute FEMA briefing speech regarding hurricane preparedness: topics included his prowess at negotiating airplane deals, his popularity, his effective political endorsements, the GOP’s fortunes, Defense Department purchasing guidelines, dislike of magnetized launch equipment on aircraft carriers, love of coal, success in meeting with Kim Jong-Un,  praise for EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, and “the brand of the Coast Guard has been something incredible what’s happened.” About hurricanes, little, and deaths in Puerto Rico, nothing.

Democrats have the lead over Republicans in all demographic groups except white men who have not graduated from college (37 percent more supportive of the GOP than Democrats) and all whites (just three points separation). Republicans are losing among white college graduates by 24 points. In competitive House districts, almost entirely GOP held, voters will support a representative who promises to check DDT by 52 to 19 percent and one who opposed DDT more of the time by 55 to 28 percent. Voters have already flipped 42 GOP state seats to Democrats since DDT’s inauguration, including one in Missouri this past week. The GOP flipped seven seats from Democrats.

 

June 2, 2018

DDT: Week 71 – Growing Dictatorship

The President of the United States is above the law, according to John Dowd, a lawyer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who said over six months ago:

“[The]President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

Today the New York Times published a confidential 20-page memo dated January 29, 2018, from Dowd to investigator Robert Mueller declaring DDT as a dictator in blocking the Russian probe.

DDT’s threats on tariffs is in accord with his “above the law” position. Although Congress is in charge of trade policy, DDT can declare tariffs in the name of national security. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called tariffs on steel and aluminum “insulting and unacceptable” in connection with a national security threat, especially because DDT lied about the trade deficit with Canada. Canada has the deficit, not the U.S., and DDT admitted that he had no idea who had the deficit.

After DDT threatened tariffs on $50 billion from China, they returned with declaring tariffs on $50 billion from the U.S. which dropped the Dow Jones 400 points. It went back up only after the FEC promised a lack of oversight on U.S. banks. Europe plans tariffs on Kentucky’s bourbon and Wisconsin’s Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and Mexico plans trade penalties on pork. China’s tariffs may focus on soybeans, and other U.S. crops may have to be destroyed because other countries cannot afford the price. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) complained about foreign tariffs, “Canada and Mexico, Europe—these are our allies.” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has a better understanding that DDT started the war, saying that DDT’s tariffs will “destroy manufacturing jobs, especially auto jobs, which are one-third of all Tennessee manufacturing jobs.”

Canada filed two complaints with the World Trade Organization after DDT will no longer exempt the country from his tariffs, and EU plans to follow suit. The G7 conference the end of this week—or G6 plus 1 as France describes those attending—will be awkward if the U.S. has to explain why it’s destroy relationships with former allies. The trade war means higher costs for goods and lost jobs.

Stephen Moore, economist at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, called tariffs “corporate welfare” because they force consumers to pay more to keep favored companies in business. DDT is also erasing competition, a sacred cow of conservative capitalism, by forcing power-grid operators to buy from ailing coal and nuclear plants instead of from cheaper source to protect DDT’s friends and donors such as Murray chief executive Robert Murray and FirstEnergy chief executive Charles E. Jones Sr. Some congressional GOP members are considering a restriction on DDT’s tampering with the economy.

In the Russian investigation, prosecutors are reassembling the shredded papers of DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen and looking into possible audio tapes of his conversations with clients. A website begging for money to support Paul Manafort’s defense team may be a scam. And more information about DDT trying to get rid of his AG Jeff Sessions—or at the very least get him to “un-recuse”—has emerged. DDT’s desperation about Sessions’ not protecting him adds to the appearance of guilt. DDT angrily tweeted about the $16.7 million cost of Robert Mueller’s first year investigating Russian meddling—about one-fourth the cost of DDT’s golf games for the same time period.

DDT’s latest ploy to conceal testimony against him is pardoning people, most recently right-wing conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza for campaign finance fraud with no request from or any attempt to follow the traditional channels of presidential pardoning. Pardoned the same week as Roseanne Barr’s “vile, anti-Semitic” rhetoric, D’Souza has been much more vile. DDT pardoned D’Souza the day after he met with Kim Kardashian West, who asked him to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, 63, serving a life sentence for her participation in cocaine transportation. Johnson has already served 21 years but gets no pardon.

After former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wrote an anti-federal prosecutor op-ed, DDT may pardon him for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. DDT said that politicians don’t deserve prison for being “stupid,” meaning that people should be exonerated for corruption. Blagojevich was fired on DDT’s television show, but he may win DDT’s new game show, “Get Out of Jail Free.” Michelle Goldberg calls it, “Celebrity Impunity.” By demonstrating his power to pardon anyone he wishes, DDT is sending a message to Michel Cohen that he would protect him. This use of pardoning was cited as a possible article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon.

DDT ally Roger Stone, also under investigation, stated that DDT’s pardon “has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert S. Mueller III: Indict people for crimes that don’t pertain to Russian collusion and this is what could happen.” Stone may be thinking he would also be protected.

North Korea talks may be back on as DDT bumbles around, first claiming that he got a “very nice” letter from Kim Jong-Un and then saying eight minutes later that he hadn’t read it. According to scholar Rachel Maddow, North Korea’s envoy is General Kim Yong Chol, “the top-ranked spy in the North Korean government … for a very long time. He headed military intelligence for the past seven years, and he built the world’s most elite hacking and cyber-espionage service from scratch—in a country where no one even has the internet.” Kim was linked to the 2010 death of 46 sailors in an attack on a South Korean naval ship and the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures as well as other crimes. Maddow questioned whether Kim left surveillance devices when he spent two hours with DDT in the Oval office.

Tropical storm Alberto arrived a week before the official opening of hurricane season, but Puerto Rico remains in dire straits from last September’s Hurricane Maria. In one whitewash of the horror, officials declared the number of deaths at 64, but a new Harvard study in the New England Journal of Medicine gives 4,645 as the real death toll. That’s more people than the 1,833 who died in the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. And more than the number of deaths—2,977—on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Post-hurricane mortality rate of 14.3 deaths per 1,000 people is a 62 percent than the same time period in 2016. The greatest causes of deaths were disrupted medical services, including access to medication and medical facilities. The 4,645 deaths are a conservative number; the death toll may be over 5,740.

A decade ago, the government had to bail out banks in a recession because of lax restrictions, and the Republicans are moving toward the same disaster. The week after DDT signed a bill into law that removed much oversight from banks, the FEC started the process for banks to take the same risks as hedge funds that indulge in speculative activities, aka “proprietary trading.” The GOP Congress already penalizes consumers with new laws allowing minority borrowers to be charged more than whites and removing federal rules easing consumer lawsuits against banks.

Back on the campaign trail, DDT is continuing his three-year-old lie that Mexico will pay for a wall separating the country from the United States. After DDT’s speech in Nashville (TN), Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted:

“President @realDonald­Trump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico.”

As DDT left to talk with family members of the Santa Fe (X) school shooting victims, he said, “We’re going to have a little fun today.” One mother, an Army veteran, compared her discussion with DDT to “talking to a toddler.”

John Boehner, former Speaker of the House: “There is no Republican Party. There’s a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”

As of yesterday, the WaPo has recorded 3,251 false or misleading claims in 497 days. That’s over 6.5 a day, up from 4.9 claims in his first 100 days. May’s average was eight, helped by 35 just at the Nashville rally on May 29. At least 122 claims were repeated at least three times. One-third of his claims deal with economic issues, trade deals, or jobs, partly when he takes credit for jobs or decisions made before he was inaugurated. For example, DDT’s job growth is actually slower than President Obama’s last five years. The 379 claims about immigration include 19 times that he has said that his wall is being built although Congress denied its funding. Seventy-five times he falsely claimed that he passed the biggest tax cut, and a large chunk of his claims are 265 statements about the Russia probe. The database of these claims.

My favorite recent lie, this one in Nashville about infrastructure:

“We will breathe new hope into our communities and we will do it all with these big, beautiful hands,” Trump continued, raising both presidential paws and stretching out the fingers. “Look at these hands.”

The mystery of the week–and maybe longer is the whereabouts of Melania Trump. She hasn’t been seen for 23 days, despite DDT’s appearances on Memorial Day and this weekend’s trip to Camp David. The only evidence from a White House that leaks like a sieve is a DDT-sounding anti-media tweet supposedly from her that claims she is fine.

September 15, 2017

Timothy Snyder, ‘On Tyranny’

“Can’t we just move on already? We get it.” That was in the letter to the editor of our small local newspaper. This sentiment, similar to others that try to defend the practices of Donald Trump, concluded by stating that the “inflammatory, inciting” letters are “not helpful in bringing America or Americans together, or even for the future of America.” In short, the letter’s author wants people to not voice concerns that they have about the current situation in the United States.

Tonight, a television host talked with Timothy Snyder, historian who has most recently written a 128-page book called On Tyranny. A reviewer called the book “a sort of operating manual for navigating the new authoritarianism that was first born as a set of social media memes after the recent presidential election in the United States.”

The last few months have seen a growing concern about the preservation of democracy. The posts in this blog refers to the man inaugurated as president last January as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). This is not merely a snide appellation: Trump came into the office with the belief that he has unlimited power, and he keeps pushing this belief on the people:

  • He is opposed to the courts and threatened to break up the 9th Circuit after it ruled against his executive orders.
  • He wants to rig the Senate so that he can push through his agenda and succeeded when its majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voided the filibuster to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • He called congressional rules “archaic” because “you’re forced to make a deal” and demanded that they be abandoned. All rules that thwart his desires are “bad for the country.”
  • He continually tries to intimidate the press and wants the federal government to control it.
  • He violates constitutional law, both for personal needs and any policies he wants put into effect.
  • He praises other authoritarian leaders for their positions and actions.
  • He surrounds himself with people who believe as he does. Soon after his inauguration, DDT’s adviser, Stephen Miller declared “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

From a review by Daniel W. Drezner:

“Unlike public intellectuals who casually toss around the word “fascist” to describe a disappointing restaurant salad, Snyder knows this subject cold. He is a Yale University historian who has written at length on fascism, Communism and the Holocaust. That gives “On Tyranny” a particular urgency. It is littered with vignettes of how Germans in the 1930s aided and abetted Hitler’s rise to power. It is impossible to read aphorisms like “post-truth is pre-fascism” and not feel a small chill about the current state of the Republic. Snyder warns, “Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or Communism in the 20th century.” He offers political advice ranging from straightforward (“Defend institutions”) to insightful (“Be calm when the unthinkable arrives”). For such a small book, Snyder invests On Tyranny with considerable heft….

“As I was pondering whether On Tyranny exaggerates, Trump tweeted that the press is the enemy of the American people. That sounds awfully pre-fascist to me. So approach this short book the same way you would a medical pamphlet warning about an infectious disease. Read it carefully and be on the lookout for symptoms.”

Timothy Snyder’s article published after the presidential election:

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are 20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

  1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.
  2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.
  3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.
  4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
  5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.
  6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the Internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps The Power of the Powerless by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.
  7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
  8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
  9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.
  10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.
  11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.
  12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
  13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.
  14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.
  15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the Internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.
  16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.
  17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.
  18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)
  19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.
  20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

[I will not “move on” as long as a dictator is in charge of the nation and democracy is at risk.]

February 24, 2017

DDT: Week Five – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can make his supporters believe anything—including a fondness for a country that conservatives have traditionally hated. Since 2015, approval of Vladimir Putin has increased 20 points to 32 percent among Republicans and 11 points to 23 percent among Independents. Putin’s popularity with Democrats has decreased five points to ten percent. The 32 percent is the highest since 2003 when George W. Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and liked what he saw—before he didn’t. Conservatives like Putin in spite of—or perhaps because of—the Russian hacking to influence the presidential election, Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, suppression of the press, brutality toward LGBTQ people, murders of people opposed to Putin, lack of free elections, violation of the nuclear treaty, and national control by oligarchs.

FBI Director James Comey got DDT elected, and now the White House wants Comey’s help to keep DDT in the White House by telling reporters that the connection between DDT’s campaign staff and Russia weren’t true. The communication violates a Department of Justice memo during George W. Bush’s time that the White House should advise the department on criminal and civil enforcement “only where it is important for the performance of the president’s duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.” DDT still has Attorney General Sessions in his pocket to keep the current DOJ from investigating him, but the GOP legislators are getting antsy about the situation after their crowd’s anger expressed during the “Resistance Recess.”

DDT also asked legislators to tell reporters that he has no ties to Russia, and they did it. Last week, senior lawmakers, who should be in charge of investigating the Trump-Russia connections called news organizations and challenged these stories. This is not a rumor; the lawmakers admitted that they called the reporters to dismiss the information of DDT associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House asked the legislators to do this, but he claimed that there was nothing wrong with asking them to contact reporters and tell them what DDT wanted. Two members of Congress who followed DDT’s orders are Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. Nunes has refused to investigate the Russian connection.

In the Washington Post Greg Miller and Adam Entous wrote:

“U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who has seen this information as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, concluded that the investigation “may very well be the most important thing I do in my public life.”

Other DDT news from the past week:

DDT Cooks the Books: DDT has figured out how he can prove his GDP growth target of 3 to 3.5 percent a year: just start with that fantasy number and then put in statistics to show that it’s right. Forget the old-fashioned way of figuring out how policies either increase or decrease the rate. DDT’s projections are at least one percentage point above the consensus reality projection. DDT also told economists to change the way that the trade deficit is calculated by omitting as exports anything that is imported and then sold to another country. For example, a car sold to a company in the United States from Mexico and then re-sold to one in Canada is considered only an import and not an export which inflates the overall trade deficit. DDT plans to use his artificial system to rail against trade deals or demand border taxes. It’s hard to understand why he bothers to create this system  because he invents his own numbers for anything, for example citing a $800 billion deficit when it’s only $500 billion. He also consistently argued that the employment rate of 4.6 percent is, in Trumpland, 42 percent because he includes everyone without a job such as retirees, college students, and many other people who don’t want jobs.

DDT Reduces Military Child Care: DDT’s promised to provide “all men and women in uniform [with] the supplies, support, equipment, training, services, medical care, and resources they need to get the job done incredibly well and perfectly.” But DDT’s hiring freeze has caused at least two Army bases to suspend childcare programs including preschool. An exemption in the hiring freeze includes “child care to the children of military personnel,” but another Army memo has caused personnel shortages by putting another layer of bureaucracy on its already burdensome hiring system.

Christie Turns DDT Down: The New Jersey governor has crawled to get crumbs from DDT, but the meatloaf may have been the last straw. On Valentine’s Day, Christie lunched at the White House and was told that he would have the meatloaf. Then DDT asked Christie if he wanted to be the Labor Secretary after Andrew Pudzer left in disgrace—hard to do when one considers DDT’s nominees. Christie said no. He’s considering a gig as host of a sports talk radio show when his term has expired.

DDT Employees Fail Background Checks: Gerrit Lansing, White House Chief Digital Officer, is only one of at least six staffers dismissed because they failed their FBI checks. Some of them were “walked out of the building by security” because they could not muster security clearance. Caroline Wiles, director of scheduling and daughter of DDT’s Florida campaign director, was one of those who left, but she said she’ll get another job in Treasury.

Conway Gets in Hot Water: DDT’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had been pulled from doing interviews after White House officials claimed that she repeatedly made statements “at odds with the administration’s official stance.”  Even DDT sycophant Joe Scarborough said she wouldn’t be on The Morning Show because she didn’t tell the truth—although he didn’t use the “T” word. Now 15 law professors have filed a professional misconduct complaint against her, calling on Conway to be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Among other concerns, the complaint cited Conway’s lie that President Obama had “banned” Iraq refugees from coming into the country for six months after the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” and for her hawking Ivanka Trump’s products. Another issue was her claim that the White House put forth “alternative facts.” The filing stated, “Alternative facts are not facts at all; they are lies.” The complaint stated that Conway “is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession.” One of the filers, Abbe Smith, said she had never before filed a complaint and goes not generally believe that lawyers should face discipline under the stated rule, which includes conduct outside the practice of law, but called Conway’s conduct “so outside the norm for a member of the legal profession.”

DDT’s Conflicts of Interest, Profit Making from the Presidency Continues: No new businesses. That was DDT’s promise in January. Sons, Eric and Donald, Jr. cost the taxpayers more big bucks on their weekend in Dubai when they opened a new Trump golf course. The club still hasn’t gotten its liquor license from the United Arab Emirates which means that DDT will need to provide his standard “pay for play” deal. The government also has to provide all the club’s services including water and roads. It’s a guarantee that the sons will take part in the negotiations. DDT deals are pending in India, Indonesia, Uruguay, and Canada, and another one may be created in the Dominican Republic where Eric visited on February 2. Meanwhile, DDT’s DC hotel, another illegal venture at this time, was bankrolled by Deutsch Bank, currently under DOJ investigation. At least, taxpayers can follow the plans because we pay for Secret Service to follow Eric and Donald Jr. everywhere.

China may be breaking its own laws by giving trademarks to DDT, something that they refused to do until DDT achieved the candidacy for president. Once again DDT may have violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign states unless approved by Congress. The one trademark that DDT received for construction services, but he’s wants them for condoms, toilets, and many other items. DDT brings a new definition to presidential dignity.

In a movement toward further dictatorship, DDT is blocking reputable news outlets from Spicer’s briefings. The Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times CNN, Politico, Buzzfeed, and reporters from several foreign news outlets were not allowed in this afternoon’s closed-door briefing. Associated Press and Time boycotted in the meeting because of that decision. A reporter from Wall Street Journal attended but said that he would not go again if other outlets were excluded.

Before DDT’s inauguration, Spicer had said that he might skip televised briefings in exchange for off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. Yet in December, Spicer said that news organizations can’t be banned from the White House because “that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.” At least he understands what he’s doing. Conservative, tabloid-type outlets such as Breitbart, Washington Times, and One American News Network were still allowed to attend.

The other big story today was the report from the Department of Homeland Security refutes the need for DDT’s Muslim ban. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

 

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily 60 Second News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: