Nel's New Day

January 6, 2019

Christians Lead the Way to Making DDT King

Day 16 of the government shutdown: On the day that the debacle caused by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ties for the third-longest shutdown in history, U.S. lawmakers on the Mexico border are rejecting DDT’s wall in favor of technology and staffing at legal ports of entry for improved security and crossing times. DDT offered $400 million for these purposes but still demands $5 billion for his wall.

Part of Mike Pence’s job as vice president is to swear in newly-elected senators, and the far-right Christian evangelist is the first VP to swear in an openly pagan and bisexual person for the chamber. Even more horrifying for Christian conservatives was Kyrsten Sinema’s use of the Constitution for her swearing in. When she saw the photo marking for “spouse,” Sinema asked, “Can we get a spouse?”

People who think that the Constitution begins with the Second Amendment—skipping freedom of press, religion, assembly, etc—were resentful when they thought Rashida Tlaib, the new representative from Michigan, who they claimed was sworn into office on a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. One person wrote a concern that Muslims will “both receive a security clearance given to congress members.” Another one sputtered in a tweet:

“This is a disgrace of epic proportions. It is also unlawful. I am disgusted for every soldier who ever gave their life to protect our Constitution!!! I feel sick.”

Not much has changed since the fury of then Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) carrying the same Koran during his swearing when he became the first Muslim in Congress.

Representatives, unlike senators, simply raise their hands while swearing to support the Constitution of the United States. The House member with the longest continuous service, in the 116th Congress Don Young (R-AK) with 46 years of service, swears in the duly-elected Speaker who then swears in the other members en masse. A book of choice, whether it be a bible or koran, is used for photographs with the Speaker after the general swearing in.

Although many conservatives claims America only for Christians, Islam came to the continent in the 17th century with the West African slaves. Thomas Jefferson bought a Koran when he was 22 years old, 11 years before drafting the Declaration of Independence. He criticized Islam as well as Catholicism for “stifling free enquiry” because both religions tied religion to government, yet he supported the rights of believers. His private notes paraphrase the English philosopher John Locke’s 1689 “Letter on Toleration”:

“(He) says neither Pagan nor Mahometan (Muslim) nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.”

Jefferson copied Locke’s ideas in writing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:

“(O)ur civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.”

Drafted in 1777, the Statute became law in 1786 and thus the basis for the U.S. Constitution’s “no religious test” clause and the First Amendment.

In Jefferson’s 1821 autobiography, he affirmed that the failure to add the words “Jesus Christ” to his legislation’s preamble proved the application of his Statute to be “universal.” Therefore religious liberty and political equality cannot be exclusively Christian but protect “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan [Muslim], the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” “Universal” includes every one of every faith or non-faith.

Jefferson also welcomed the first Muslim ambassador, one from Tunis, to the White House in 1805. Because it was a time of Ramadan, Jefferson changed the time for the state dinner from 3:30 pm to be “precisely at sunset” to recognize the ambassador’s religious beliefs.

The month of Ramadan celebrates when Prophet Muhammad is believed to have first received revelations from God by fasting from sunrise to sunset. Each year, the event begins ten or eleven days earlier than the previous year, beginning on May 6 in 2019. Beginning in 1966, the White House commemorated Ramadan for two decades with an iftar dinner that broke the fast at night; DDT chose to ignore Ramadan in the first year after his inauguration.

While DDT’s supporters completely reject the Islam religion, they compare his election to the anointing of King Cyrus by God, a nonbeliever used by the faithful, as told by Mark Taylor, a former firefighter in The Trump Prophecy. Evangelical author Lance Wallnau, also in the film, said, “I believe the 45th president is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus,” who will “restore the crumbling walls that separate us from cultural collapse.”

DDT’s anti-Christian and anti-democratic attitudes make him popular with Christian nationalists who claim to follow the constitution and Founding Fathers while preferring autocrats and kings. Ralph Drollinger, the White House evangelist leading Bible study groups, has made “king” into a verb, i.e., “Get ready to king in our future lives.” DDT follows King Cyrus by making himself above the law, for example his most recent claim that he will build the wall with no authority from Congress. DDT’s evangelical followers also want only a king—no queens. Drollinger maintains that the Bible allows only “male leadership.” Even people who question his sexual language and behavior think that he’s a miracle sent from Heaven to lead the United States to God. To them, resisting DDT is resisting God. The current leading Christian movement in the U.S. today is unbending, authoritarian, patriarchal, and paranoid; it is an attack on democracy.

A sample of the far-right Christian sects and movements supporting DDT:

POTUS Shield: Televangelist Frank Amedia, leader of these self-described “warriors, worshippers, and watchmen,” insists that God visited him before DDT’s inauguration to ask him for a protective shield of prayer around DDT because he was sent to create a Christian fundamentalist takeover of the government. Members are Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, and Lou Engle, promoter of the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill—among other hate policies. One of their goals is doing away with Islam.

People of Praise: Predominantly Catholic, the group incorporates Pentecostal practices such as speaking in tongues, and requires members to swear an oath of loyalty to the group. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who sits on the 7th Circuit Court and on DDT’s short list for a Supreme Court justice appointment, belongs to this group believing that women must submit to male authority. The terms “handmaid” and “handmaiden” to describe women are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, popularized in the 1990 film and 2017/2018 television series.

Quiverfull: This movement within fundamentalist Protestant Christianity claims that preventing a pregnancy is a sin and that all contraceptives are tools of the Devil. Christian wives, who must be submissive to their husbands, should have as many children as possible. Author Nancy Campbell called the womb a “weapon against Satan.” Kathryn Joyce wrote:

“If just eight million American Christians began supplying more ‘arrows for the war’ by having six children or more, they propose that the Christian Right ranks could rise to 550 million within a century.”

Wives are not allowed to have bank accounts or email addresses with their husbands’ permission, and they are to be always sexually available to their husbands.

Project Blitz: This coalition of Christian fundamentalist activists floods state legislatures with bills promoting a theocracy with the hope that a few may succeed in passing. Model bills come from the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF) playbook under the guise of “religious freedom.” Five states have passed “In God We Trust” bills mandating that the phrase be on public buildings, schools, and public vehicles include police cars. Other bills could provide proclamations that move religious teachings into schools through something like a Christian heritage week, followed by anti-LGBTQ bills to promote “biblical values concerning marriage and sexuality.” Christians are to rule the United States with their far-right vision, according to Project Blitz; all other people are second-class citizens.

WallBuilders: Founder David Barton, also active in Project Blitz, is a former chairman of the Texas Republican Party and director of Keep the Promise PAC that supported Sen. Ted Cruz’ 2016 presidential campaign. A history revisionist, he teaches that separation of church and state is unconstitutional and that the government should be based on strict biblical law.  Barton has advised Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, and Mike Huckabee and regularly appeared on Glenn Beck’s Founders Fridays radio broadcasts. God established national borders, according to Barton, who opposes any immigration. In 2010, he tried to keep Martin Luther King, Jr. from Texas textbooks because “only majorities can expand political rights.”

Through the National Prayer Breakfast, far-right Christians connected with Russia to maintain the GOP leadership of the United States. Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, explained the background for the National Prayer Breakfast and its connection to Russia:

“It’s run by a private, sectarian, fundamentalist organization called The Fellowship and The Family that believes in precisely this kind of action. In fact, the long-time leader of the organization has called it quiet diplomacy, back channel, back door interactions between international leaders, that they use the prayer breakfast to bring them together. As recently as a year ago, the current leader, Doug Burleigh, was predicting alliance between [President Donald] Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. He predicted that at a Russian prayer breakfast.”

Russian Maria Butina, recently admitted to being a Russian spy, allegedly sought to influence U.S. officials not only through organizations such as the National Rifle Association, but also by exploiting the National Prayer Breakfast. Butina was denied entry into the United States until the NRA pushed through a visa for her. The affidavit stated that she intended to use the prayer breakfast to “establish a back channel of communications” between influential Russians in the U.S. with power U.S. citizens. This year, the Breakfast had the biggest group of any country. One of the Russians formally invited was sanctioned two months after the prayer breakfast.

Christian evangelicals are leaders of the movement to involve Russia in making DDT king of the United States with his support from Pence and the GOP base.

January 4, 2019

Shutdown Disasters Start with DDT

Day 14 of the government shutdown: VP Mike Pence and hundreds of his appointees will receive wage increases averaging about $10,000 a year, thanks to the lack of appropriation legislation. At the same time, 800,000 federal workers have no paychecks although about half of them are still on the job. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered a pay freeze for most federal workers just before 2019, one which does not keep his cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, top administrators from getting raises, people who may receive them in bulk later if their agencies’ human resources departments aren’t staffed because of the shutdown. Public information about these raises led to “bad optics”; after a day of “exploring options,” the government ordered departments to hold off on the pay raises.

DDT has already said he would “look foolish” if he backed off from the wall funding, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is goading him into staying the course by saying:

“If he gives in now, that’s the end of 2019 in terms of him being an effective president. That’s probably the end of his presidency. Donald Trump has made a promise to the American people: He’s going to secure our border.”

Disagreeing that DDT is an “effective president,” people also wonder why he doesn’t keep his promise to make Mexico “pay for the wall.”

To get his wall through holding the government hostage, DDT spreads false fear-mongering to keep his base in control.

  • DHS highly inflated numbers of gang members trying to cross the border—6,000 instead of the actual 800.
  • The 3,755 “terrorists” described, including those under suspicion of ties to organizations, come at all U.S. ports of entry such as airports. Last year, the State Department report zero number of terrorists crossing the Mexico border.

  • Percentages of apprehensions on the Mexico is high for 2018 because the number was so low in 2017, the first year after DDT’s inauguration. DDT wanted that decline to prove that his methods were effective, but he realized that he needed high numbers to persuade people to fund his wall.
  • DDT spreads false increases about drugs coming across from Mexico: the 2.14 million pounds of narcotics were seized in 2017 dropped to 1.7 million pounds in 2018, a decrease of over 20 percent. Former DHS Secretary John F. Kelly testified that most of these drugs come through existing ports of entry, and statistics show that the vast majority of these drugs is marijuana, which has been legalized for some purposes in two-thirds of the states. DDT also lied when he said most of the drugs don’t come through legal ports of entry.
  • A conservative outlet reported 900 cases of human trafficking but inflated the figure by counting all children who did not come into the U.S. with a biological parent. Only 170 children claiming to be with family were separated because of no biological; these children, who may have been with family friends, have been sent to privatized confinement where many of them are abused—physically, sexually, and emotionally—by taxpayer funds.

People in the U.S. need to be far more afraid of native-born citizens than undocumented immigrants. In 2015, these citizens committed crimes at over twice the rate that of undocumented immigrants. In another study, cities with a higher undocumented immigration population do not have higher rates of violent crime.

After a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House this morning, DDT said that they came “a long way” and that they were “all on the same path.” DDT’s other reports were equally optimistic. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said, however, that DDT threatened to keep the government closed for “years” if he doesn’t get his wall funding. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described the meeting as “sometimes contentious.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said DDT did not talk about protections for DACA recipients. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not attend the meeting but said that Democrats need to agree to meet. DDT, the great negotiator, has appointed a group—including VP Mike Pence, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner—to negotiate a solution.

On Splinter, the irreverent but informative purveyor of news, Rafi Schwartz called DDT’s 16-minute press conference following the White House meeting the dumbest—if not the craziest or worst—performance. The strangest part was DDT’s repetition that terrorists are driving across the southern border where they make a right turn” at the existing border fence and then “they make a left” where the barrier ends to enter the United States.

Other repetitive DDT statements were a long diatribe about the “powerful steel structure” for a wall, perhaps better than concrete because people can see through it and because steel is stronger and more “beautiful” than concrete. People might throw drugs across a concrete wall and kill you—according to DDT. About people who own land where he wants to build the law, DDT declared a nonexistent “military version of eminent domain.” He also declared that he would give himself emergency powers to build his wall by calling it a “national emergency.”

On Vox, Aaron Rupar went farther when he called the news conference “unhinged, incoherent, oblivious, and dangerous.” DDT lied again about his government finishing “new walls, beautiful walls, steels walls” in California. Congress has not appropriated one cent for DDT’s “new walls.” He also falsely claimed that San Diego begged him for the wall.

DDT preened about how “some” previous presidents privately told him that they wish they would have built a border wall. Unless he’s channeling Andrew Jackson, who died in 1845, he’s lying again. No rational person can imagine former presidents—Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—even having recent private conversations with him, let alone being sorry that they didn’t create a “beautiful” wall.

Asked about the $10,000 raises that his executive employees receive when federal workers aren’t being paid, DDT suggested that these workers approve of the increases, that they are the “biggest fan[s] of what we’re doing.” April Ryan asked him whether he had a safety net for people without paychecks for months or years. DDT said, “The safety net is going to be having a strong border.”

Asked whether he was still “proud” to own the shutdown, Trump deflected:

“I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing. I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and safety of our country.”

DDT’s babblings can be found here.

Yesterday Pelosi explained why DDT is difficult to negotiate with:

“When you’re negotiating with someone, you have to know, you stipulate to some fact. It’s hard to do that with the president because he resists science, evidence, data, truth. It’s hard to pin the president down on the facts.”

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), member of the Appropriations Committee, was more blunt than Pelosi in describing DDT:

“The one thing you’ve got when you come into this place is your credibility, and once you lose it, it’s gone and it’s gone forever. He’s lost it. It’s very difficult to negotiate anything, because you don’t know if he’s going to stick with it. You don’t know what his attitude is going to be tomorrow or what his position is going to be tomorrow. There’s a lot of members of our caucus who think this shutdown is stupid.”

Simpson expressed more frustration because DDT backed down after he told McConnell that he would support a CR without a wall until February 8. McConnell twisted arms until he persuaded every GOP senator to vote for the CR, and then DDT refused to agree with the bill. The House patterned its new bill after the unanimously-passed Senate bill, and McConnell refuses to bring the House bill back to the chamber floor—probably because it was passed by Democrats.

DDT denies that he ever offered $2.5 billion instead of the original $5.7 billion for his wall, but Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), said that he attend the meetings where “Pence offered the $2.5 [billion].” Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) called for “cooler heads to prevail and to know where “everybody’s negotiating from.” Asked if he knows where DDT, is negotiating from, Hurd said, “No, I don’t.”

The idea for the wall came from Roger Stone, being investigated by Robert Mueller, when the political analyst urged him to talk about illegal immigration to manipulate conservatives. Sam Nunberg said that he and Stone “came up with the idea of ‘the Wall,’ and we talked to Steve [Bannon] about it. It was to make sure that [DDT] talked about immigration.” DDT tried out the idea at the Iowa Freedom Summit. The crowd went crazy over the idea, and DDT added, “Nobody builds like Trump.”

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal opposes the building of the wall to stop illegal immigration. A large increase of legal admission of farm workers during the 1950s drastically reduced illegal entry to the United States from Mexico, and illegal entry across the Mexico border has dropped by over 90 percent since 2000, according to Border Patrol apprehensions data. A wall also does not stop immigrants from applying for asylum.

In 1995 and 2013, the shutdowns closed national parks, but White House budget director/acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke decided to keep them open this time without staffing. By the 14th day of DDT’s shutdown, three people have died of accidents in three different national parks. More may have died because the government is not notifying the public of deaths because of the shutdown.

January 3, 2019

Shutdown, House Moves Forward

Day 13 of government shutdown: Thanks to the intransigence of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT), ICE has immigration problems. Tens of thousands of immigration officers and agents have no pay while they show up for work at the Mexico border. Many judges and clerks in immigration courts, already backlogged by almost one million cases, have been sent home while over 2,000 migrants are taken into custody each day. Sixty-five of these border crossers are families and children who are being released in the streets of El Paso (TX), Yuma (AZ), and other border cities. The E-verify website to check on the immigration status of potential hires has been shut down.

In addition to delayed IRS refunds, the Emergency Food Assistance Program may have delayed delivery of food to soup kitchens, food banks, and pantries. Frozen guarantees to back loans from the Small Business Administration mean millions of small businesses lost access to federal assistance loans and technical assistance. Homebuyers will be delayed in getting mortgages. Access to marriage licenses in D.C. has been suspended.

Parks are filthy, restrooms are closed, and museums are closed. Because of health and safety concerns, campgrounds at the Joshua Tree National Park were closed. Areas around parks are losing an average $18 million a day from tourism, and the government is losing money from not collecting fees at the parks where people crawl over fences and gates. Staff shortages create a feeling of “lawlessness” in the parks.  [Trash at the Washington Monument.]

One of DDT’s arguments for the wall is his claim that the Obama D.C. home has a surrounding ten-foot wall. As usual, DDT is wrong. One of the Obama neighbors commented that DDT “has a very active imagination.” Fox “news” reported on DDT’s information but not the reality.

For the second time in a government shutdown, federal workers are suing in protest of the requirement that “essential” employees must work without pay. Some affected agencies, including the VA and Defense Department, have enough money to pay employees until next fall, but nine other departments and dozens of agencies have been closed except for “essential” individuals who not only won’t receive pay but can’t take vacations or sick leave. Even if employees are in the hospital, they can be fired for being absent without leave. Employees also sued during the 2013 shutdown, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims required that employees must be paid twice their back pay because the government violated the requirement that employees be paid on time for their services.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a woman elected as Speaker of the House for the 116th Congress, beat out Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in a vote of 220-192 despite 15 Democratic dissidents. She celebrates her position in the 100th anniversary of women voting for federal candidates in the United States. Pelosi needed at least 216 votes for the position to obtain a simple majority of members on the chamber floor because one Republican was absent, one had not been seated, and three Democrats voted “present. Other votes went to Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), 4 votes); Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), 2 votes; Rep. John Lewis (D-GA); Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA); and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). Two people who are not House members, former VP Joe Biden and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, each received one vote.

The Democratic and Blue Dog representative for my Oregon district, Kurt Schrader, voted for Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). The super PAC for Schrader’s “No Labels” group spent over $2.5 million during the recent midterms to support vulnerable GOP House candidates trying to keep their position. Only half that amount supported Democrats. No Labels declared candidate DDT as one of their official “problem solvers,”  and No Labels tried to prevent Pelosi from becoming Speaker. Schrader maintained he wanted a younger House leadership before he voted for the 66-year-old Fudge for Speaker and supported older House representatives for other leadership positions.

The House promptly went to work today. In an effort to stop the shutdown, the House passed two bills with the support of a few Republicans. One package of six bills, passed by 239-192, funds agencies that are not considered controversial including the departments of Treasury, State, and Justice through the 2019 fiscal year at the end of September. The second bill, funding DHS through February 8, maintains the department’s funding at current levels which includes $3.1 billion for border security.

The first GOP senator has called for reopening the government with a CR that doesn’t give DDT his money for the wall. Cory Gardner (CO) suggested continuing negotiations after federal agencies open and “let Democrats explain why they no longer support border security.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) agreed with Gardner, but her opinion carries no weight because she never follows through with her promises. After the House passed a bill last month mandating $5.7 billion for DDT’s wall, the Senate approved a CR without that funding to keep the government open until February 8. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that no vote will occur without DDT’s previous sign-off. In essence, McConnell abdicated all the power of the Senate to the executive branch. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out that the House bills are the same as the ones supported in the GOP Senate Appropriations Committee.

Pundits like to talk about how disliked Pelosi is. In the most recent Gallup poll, she is rated more favorably at 38 percent than either Senate leader (Democrat Chuck Schumer from New York at 32 percent and GOP Mitch McConnell from Kentucky at 30 percent) with the same unfavorable rating, 48 percent, as McConnell. Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) received a 34-percent favorable rating with his unfavorable 50 percent at two percent higher than Pelosi, but the media has had few comments about these ratings.

On fivethirtyeight.com, Perry Bacon wrote that all congressional leaders are unpopular. It’s the job and the fact that Congress is unpopular, but increasing partisan polarization has led to increasing partisan hatred of the leaders of the opposite party. As Bacon pointed out, any Democratic House Speaker will be disliked. Congressional leaders also receive negativity from the opposing party but little support of their own. The sexism adds to the mix: Pelosi is the only female congressional leader in the House or Senate, the country fails to elect a woman president, and almost half the states have never elected a woman for governor.

Republicans undoubtedly dislike Pelosi because she gets things done, including the vote for the Affordable Care Act. They complain that she is too liberal, but much of their distaste for the new House Speaker comes from her gender. The GOP wants women to vote for them, but they don’t want women in office. The 116th Congress is evidence of that philosophy.

The question is why some Democrats oppose Pelosi. Some might believe that she’s not progressive enough, although the 15 dissidents are so conservative that the Blue Dogs supported DDT before his election. Other Democrats blame her for their party losing Congress because they need someone to blame. Sometimes Democrats are offended when members of their party try to compromise while at the same time they excoriate the GOP for not working with the Democrats.

An overview of the House membership in the 116th Congress: Three Republicans come from districts that Clinton took in 2016, and 31 Democrats came from DDT-majority districts.

Today is a big milestone for DDT: it represents the longest period of time that DDT didn’t play golf since he was inaugurated. DDT hasn’t visited a golf course and one his personally owned properties for 39 days. Before that time, he spent 166 days at one of his golf clubs and another 22 days at one of his properties. President Obama didn’t hit even 100 rounds of golf until the end of his first term. On the campaign trail, DDT said that he wouldn’t be able to visit any of his properties while he was in office because “I’m going to be working for you.” The man who calls himself the best negotiator possible sat around the White House for two weeks and waited for Democrats to come talk to him.

December 31, 2018

Shutdown, Cracks in Democracy on Last Day of 2018

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 5:05 PM
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Day Ten of Government Shutdown: Not satisfied with taking paychecks from 800,000 federal workers, almost half of them required to keep working, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has signed an executive order to freeze pay for about two million public employees in the coming year. He canceled a scheduled 2.1 percent pay raise that would almost keep wages up with rising inflation. After signing $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, DDT decided that he didn’t want a deficit. Many “furloughed” workers—including janitors, security guards, and cafeteria workers in federal buildings won’t be paid after they were told not to come to work because companies can’t bill the government for services that shut down. Congress could override DDT’s order with a two-thirds veto-proof vote in both chambers.

DDT’s threat to close down the southern border if he doesn’t get his wall soon could cost the U.S. commerce a billion dollars every day, a spike in car prices, and problems with factories. Another casualty would be foods that come to the U.S. from Mexico while the weather keeps agricultural production in the United States. Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Utah—all DDT states—each sent over one-fourth of their exports to Mexico las year. Workers in both Mexico and U.S. comprise a majority of the almost one-million legal border crossings each day. A six-hour closure between San Diego and Tijuana last Thanksgiving cost the local economy $5.3 billion.

The longest government shutdown in history began in 1995 when House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) led the Republicans to cut Medicare. President Bill Clinton refused. After 21 days, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KA) led his GOP members to pass the appropriations bills without Gingrich’s cuts to Medicare, and the House voted the same way. Todd Purdum writes that Gingrich later admitted that part of the reason he closed the government in November 1995 before the December 16 shutdown was that Clinton had pub in a rear cabin on Air Force One while returning from Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral in Jerusalem and made him exit by the rear stairs. Gingrich knew that Clinton wouldn’t sign a bill that increased Medicare premiums and cut environmental regulations. “It’s petty,” Gingrich said, “but I think it’s human.” Clinton’s stance on both shutdowns helped him win the 1996 election, but Gingrich got his revenge by working with Monica Lewinsky to force Clinton into an impeachment. The question is what consequences will come out of the current White House tantrum leading to the 2018-19 shutdown.

Lest anyone think that DDT is not “working” on the last day of 2018, he is still angrily tweeting. One claim calls out former chief of staff John Kelly in his statement that the “wall” doesn’t have to be concrete. He wrote, “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media.” Like a king, DDT is waiting at the White House for the Democrats, excoriated in his tweets, to come begging to give him funding for his wall. In one tweet, he blamed Democrats for the death of two Guatemalan children in ICE custody this month, writing that the wall would have stopped it. He also tweeted to Democrats that he was sitting in his office waiting for them to come and give him his wall although a reporter found no Marine posted outside the door of the office.

Republicans take pride in their cruelty toward people in the United States with the statement that “Elections have consequences.” When Democrats and progressive ballot measures succeeded in the midterms, however, the GOP in several states refused to take the consequences of the party’s failures. Instead, they spent the last few weeks of the term during the lame-duck session by destroying the will of the people through democracy.

Despite gerrymandering and voter suppression, Michigan and Wisconsin became the poster states with dozens of bills to overturn policies won by majority vote and restrict elected Democratic officials. Many of the new laws reversed increases in the minimum wage and expansion of voting rights.

Michigan passed over 400 bills in less than two months, many of them signed by outgoing GOP Rick Snyder. He did veto four bills that exceeded legislative powers. The legislature may have blocked the use of growing cannabis for personal use, changing the way to appoint the non-partisan commission, and requiring voters to register at a county clerk’s office rather than the polls which removes the approval for same-day voter registration by a majority of the state’s population. Earlier the legislature had blocked a ballot measure on raising the minimum wage and paying sick time by enacting the proposals and then immediately removing these provisions with a simple majority after the midterm election. The legislative action on sick leave exempts almost 40 percent of Michigan workers. To block future ballot measures, legislators made the process of collecting signatures far more difficult and costly. Other lame-duck laws give a $115 million corporate tax cut and mandates that doctors prescribe abortion pills in person.

Other Michigan laws restrict powers of incoming Democrats—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, AG Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson—all of whom replaced Republicans. Limitations include the governor’s authority in blocking a pipeline across the Strait of Mackinac, the AG from withdrawing from a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act without legislative permission, and the secretary of state in increasing voter access.

More Michigan laws passed after the election of Democrats:

  • State agencies must prove “clear and convincing” need to impose strong state regulations than federal ones.
  • A $1.3 billion online sales tax revenue was diverted from schools to roads and other priorities.
  • A grading system of A through F is mandated for public schools.
  • Federal toxicity values instead of those established by states must be used for cleaning up hazardous substances.
  •  A measure requiring permits for degrading wetlands made key concessions to developers.
  • Municipalities not already imposing licensing requirements on specific occupations cannot pass ordinance to do so.
  • States agencies may not use drones to surveil facilities subject to licensing or other government requirements.
  • The hunting age for deer, bear, and elk on public lands was reduced to ten years old.

The busy Michigan legislators will probably be crushed by some of Gov. Rick Snyder’s vetoes. A major veto was on the bill that would have permitted legislators to interfere in court cases. In neighboring Wisconsin, losing Gov. Scott Walker signed every lame-duck bill given him, many of them ones that copied those in Michigan. Wisconsin must remain in lawsuits opposed to the ACA, and the new governor cannot dissolve Walker’s misnamed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) which gives loans and incentives to businesses connected with Walker and other Republicans. The legislature now has oversight instead of the governor. Other laws require Medicaid recipients to have drug-testing requirements that have not worked in other states and limits early voting to two weeks. Permits granted to the hugely expensive project that acquired large subsidies from Wisconsin taxpayers, Foxconn, have been moved from the GOP AG to the GOP legislature.

Walker’s power grabs caused even his staunch GOP supporters to say that his actions will “destroy” his legacy, already one that destroys the formerly progressive state. Despite its promises, Republicans failed to protect affordable insurance on pre-existing conditions as the ruling from a judge in Texas endangers the future of this health care that people overwhelming desire.

In one day, Wisconsin’s GOP senators approved 82 Walker government appointees a month before he left office, including two members to the state’s public university board. One of the positions had been empty for over a year. Thirty of the appointments had no public hearing, and some had failed to file a statement of economic interest. Eight years ago, Walker urged outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle not to “finalize any permanent civil service personnel” during his last two months in office, writing about “common practice for political appointees to use this time to ‘bump down’ into permanent civil service positions.” He added:

“I believe these appointees should be required to go through the same application process as any other civil servants and my Administration will review any new permanent hires during the next two months so they can be considered for termination during the probationary period.”

Walker also recently gave the outgoing attorney general a seat on a court in Waukesha County ― a position that doesn’t require state Senate approval.

Residents in both Michigan and Wisconsin resent handouts to large corporations, especially Walker’s $4.5 billion in state and local subsidies to Foxconn. The state is not scheduled to break even on the deal until 2043. Snyder’s Michigan “mega-deals” with incentives over $50 million” drain education, healthcare, transportation, and parks. The deals claim to create jobs, but the 29 big deals that cost taxpayers $7.1 billion include General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler. Incentives average $465,000 per job, and advantages may not appear for years.

Florida’s new GOP governor-elect Ron DeSantis plans to stall any enactment of the state’s successful ballot measure, passed by an almost 65-percent vote, to return voting rights to felons completing their sentences. Legislative language could also restrict the law’s intent. A lawsuit could run into problems because DeSantis will replace three liberal-leaning justices immediately after he is sworn in, leaving the court with a six-to-one conservative majority.

Pennsylvania tried to unseat a legally elected state legislator, Ohio introduced legislation to stop people from amending the state constitution because a popular vote restricted gerrymandering, Missouri tried to block a stop to election fraud by popular vote, Georgia purged voters from registration rolls with no excuse, and North Carolina can’t seat a U.S. representative because he bought absentee ballots that would then be used to pad his vote. The Republicans grow more and more desperate because they know they cannot win elections with illegal election fraud and drawing districts that always favor the GOP.

Happy New Year!

December 25, 2018

DDT’s Version of ‘Merry Christmas’

Day Four of Government Shutdown: Retroactive pay doesn’t mean anything for small businesses when people stop spending for the holidays out of fear that paychecks will not be coming for a long time. No more perks like manicures or more presents. After Christmas, forget sales for clothes and other things that people load up on at the sales. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) says he won’t stop the shutdown until he gets his money. Sounds like blackmail on Christmas Day.

DDT wants people to say “Merry Christmas,” but he debunked Santa Claus to a seven-year-old girl when she called to check on Santa’s progress on NORAD. When DDT answered the phone, he asked While answering telephone calls from children tracking Santa’s progress on NORAD, DDT asked Collman Lloyd of Lexington (SC) if she is “still a believer in Santa Claus.” After she said yes, DDT said, “Because at 7 that’s marginal, right?” Fortunately, Collman doesn’t know the meaning of “marginal,” and she still believes in Santa because the milk and cookies left for him overnight disappeared. DDT, who threw rocks at other toddlers in play pens before he was three years old, just shot down Santa Claus for a lot of people.

The day before DDT tried to burst Collman’s bubble, he moaned on his Twitter account:

 “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.” [DDT’s version of “all alone.]

Earlier this year, DDT turned down $25 billion in border security, but he claims that “the wall is different” and that it “will be built with shutdown money plus funds already in hand.” He’s missed the fact that the shutdown costs money; it doesn’t increase funding. And that’s just part of the anger-filled, hateful tweets that he sent from the White House in the days before Christmas when he wanted to be cheered on with Mar-a-Lago members.

In several tweets, DDT scapegoated Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for his own mistakes that led to the massive drop in stock markets during December. After a disastrous week, the Dow Jones plunged another 653 points in a half-day session yesterday. Economists have been muttering about an upcoming recession for months, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, formerly king of foreclosures who didn’t let an elderly widow escape when she owed $.27, tried to block the fall. On Sunday, Mnuchin tweeted that the public has plenty of money to borrow because he talked with CEOs of six large banks. The CEOs were confused by his tweet, and the stock market had its worst Christmas Eve in history. The other major stock exchanges dropped in equally disastrous percentages, and crude oil fell over six percent to below $43 a barrel.

DDT added to the roiling market by threatening to fire Powell, his own appointment, and asking if he has the right to carry through with his threats. Mnuchin told DDT Saturday night that Mnuchin didn’t have the right to fire Powell although the law permits the president to fire a Fed board member “for cause.” Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director/acting chief of staff, said Saturday that DDT wasn’t going to fire Powell, whose term as chair ends in 2022 and board member in 2028. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that DDT’s war on the Fed has caused some of the problems:

“Investors are increasingly spooked by the president’s wrong-headed attacks on the Fed and the Treasury Secretary’s ham-handed efforts to convince everyone Trump doesn’t mean it and that everything is fine.”

Although DDT claimed today that he was happy with Mnuchin, insiders are saying that he is upset with him. Mnuchin may follow former Defense Secretary James Mattis out of the Cabinet.

Christmas 2018 is the date that DDT cut off aid for abused women. Funding for the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) stopped when DDT’s shutdown began. Women lose their resources to be safe just before the holidays, a particularly dangerous time for them.

DDT has cut off paychecks for about 800,000 federal workers as well as planning to cut food stamps from another 800,000 people. Upset because the farm bill did not have provisions to starve people, DDT has announced his own orders last week to circumvent a law passed by Congress. DDT follows the conservative argument that people who get benefits aren’t working because they are lazy. DDT’s proposed rule removes the 20-year-old states’ rights to issues waivers if unemployment is 20 percent over the national average or there are significantly fewer jobs available than people who need work. DDT’s order to remove waivers in areas of unemployment under 7 percent will be made worse with bureaucracy such as Arkansas’s Medicaid overhaul where no waivers can be issued even in places with proof of insufficient jobs. Less than ten percent of food stamp recipients qualify as “able-bodied adults without dependents,” and over half of them work or volunteer enough time for the 20-hour work rules.

The Fox network final salvo in its “war against Christmas” blended with its war on gender identity and came from Tucker Carlson’s diatribe against gingerbread people with his guest Tammy Bruce. She claimed that gingerbread men are “obviously… they’re men.” She did indicate that she couldn’t tell the gender, “because they’re also not wearing clothes. So, it’s hard to say what they are and what they’re doing and not doing.” She probably refers to the fact that gingerbread cookies lack external genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics. Carlson called on people to not participate in the “spiritual neutering” of cookies. Part of the outrage came from false news reporting that the Scottish Parliament had banned the use of the term “men” when referring to gingerbread cookies. With 30 percent of women in the Scottish Parliament building stating they had been sexually harassed, the bakery renamed their cookies in solidarity.

A true war on Christmas this year is the war by DDT and the GOP against immigrants both documented and undocumented, especially those seeking asylum. A Guatemalan child died in DHS custody early this morning, the second one in less than three weeks. The cause hasn’t been announced, but children are put in extremely cold rooms when first in custody, supposedly to kill germs, and experience limited medical screening only for scabies, lice, and chickenpox. Children sleep side-by-side on mats on the floor with only a Mylar blanket. All their belongings are removed. The facilities were built in the 1980s and 1990s to temporarily house migrant adults. The 8-year-old boy’s death went unnoted in DDT’s furious tweets. Felipe González Morales, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has called for an investigation of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin after her death in custody on December 7, 2018 although the death was kept secret from Congress for almost a week.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) told DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during her testimony to a House hearing that DDT’s immigration policies are unchristian and that they would have blocked Jesus Christ and his family from their flight to Egypt:

“During Christmas, a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ—a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph—thank God there wasn’t a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt.”

DDT skipped a presidential tradition on Christmas by avoiding any direct contact with military members on Christmas Day, instead addressing some service members on safe bases. He told them that drugs are flowing across the southern border, the Federal Reserve is endangering the U.S. economy, and Democrats are planning to harass him with oversight hearings. He said, “It’s a disgrace …, but other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.” Merry Christmas to you too, DDT!

On this Christmas Day, 705 days since DDT’s inauguration, I am grateful for a safe home with food and warmth. I don’t live in a war-torn area, I’m not a refugee from violence, I no longer teach where someone could come in to kill me and my students, I have health insurance—I could keep going on and on with the privileges that many of us have, even more privileges after DDT has declared war on every minority. The best gift for my Christmas Day—for my year—is that the nation may have a chance to save a small piece of its democracy. After Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had two malignant nodules removed from her lung last week, she’s back at work in her room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Doctors say that that there is “no evidence of remaining disease.”

December 8, 2018

The Ins and Outs of DDT’s World

After months of rumors that John Kelly, chief of staff to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), would depart the White House, the latest comments that the two of them were no longer speaking bore fruit. DDT announced that Kelly would be out of the House by the end of the year, probably to be replaced by 36-year-old Nick Ayers, currently VP Mike Pence’s chief of staff. As with other DDT’s changes in personnel, he’s looking for someone who won’t disagree with him. Less than 17 months ago, which DDT called “almost two years,” optimists hoped that Kelly would curb DDT’s unruly impulses, but Kelly had his own problems of lying and refusing to back down on fact-checks of his falsehoods, specifically his attacks on Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL). Kelly also supported Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the family separation travesty at the U.S.-Mexico border. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner will be delighted to see the last of Kelly, although he is also testifying in Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Other openings also give DDT a chance to appoint more high-level officials. With the failure of Matt Whitaker as acting AG because of his criminal activities, DDT found a more confirmable AG candidate with the same credentials as Whitaker—supports the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, wants to investigate Hillary Clinton, believes that Robert Mueller’s investigation is wrong, and has a pattern of handing out pardons for the president. Bill Barr, AG for George H.W. Bush, considers Jeff Sessions an “outstanding attorney general” and gave pardons for H.W.’s friends implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Pro-lifers are also delighted that Barr opposes Roe v. Wade. He also supports harsh drug laws and mass incarceration. Barr can protect DDT with his belief that the executive branch should oppose attempt from Congress to obtain executive data, a position that Republicans will approve. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) called Barr “a man whose writings endorse the anti-democratic notion that the president is effectively royalty, unaccountable to laws, the Constitution, or constraint by Congress.” He added that Barr “supported unconstitutional surveillance of Americans … and advocated for the use of torture.”

Another, far more unlikely, DDT appointment is Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman, to replace Nikki Haley as UN Ambassador for the United States. A former long-time employee for the Fox network, Nauert had no experience in foreign policy, government, or politics until DDT put her into the State Department in March 2017. Twenty years ago, she was hired among many other young female cable personalities to publicize the Bill Clinton scandal with Monica Lewinsky. Bill Shine, now White House deputy chief of staff for communications after he was forced to leave Fox for his handling of sexual misconduct, brought Nauert to Fox. She explained her popularity by saying, “It’s more interesting to see a young person talking about issues than a big, old, fat white guy.”

On the Fox network, sometimes as host of Fox & Friends, Nauert complained about migrant children bringing “disease” into the U.S., ranted about “illegals,” and lament As a talking head on Fox News, she peddled the Benghazi conspiracy, claimed that immigrant children are bringing “disease” into America, railed against “illegals,” and protested about “sharia law … now changing everything” in the United States because a Minnesota YMCA accommodated Somali-American Muslim girls during swimming class.

Nauert is known for her gaffes. Last June, she gave the D-Day invasion attacking German forces in World War II as an example of the “strong relationship with the government of Germany.” Nothing about the German reunification in 1990 and the end of the Cold War. Most recently, she posted a photograph of herself cheerfully smiling in front of the Saudi Royal Court while she represented the United States on a “fact-finding mission” into the torture and dismemberment U.S. resident and WaPo journalist orchestrated by Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam. During the same time, her boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also grinned and laughed with MBS. [visual]

In talking about why Nauert is “clearly not qualified” for the job, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said:

“Our foreign policy is a mess, and the president was laughed at in his last speech before the U.N. I’m not sure anybody would advise him that the way to correct all his mistakes is to put a Fox & Friends anchor as our top ambassador to the United Nations…. These days it seems that the most important qualification is that you show up on Donald Trump’s TV screen, and if you’re successful in that endeavor, then you seem to be a top candidate to get a whole bunch of top positions in the U.S. government.”

Peter Baker and Michael M. Grynbaum wrote about DDT’s reshaping the role of the ambassador, a position that became part of DDT’s Cabinet at Nikki Haley’s insistence:

“If confirmed, Ms. Nauert may serve more as a public face for the administration than as a policymaker, leaving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, to dominate decision-making back in Washington. Many in Washington saw the appointment as a way for Mr. Bolton to consolidate power.”

Even an opinion piece in The Hill, a conservative publication, disagreed with DDT’s choice with the understatement that Nauert is not “one of America’s top diplomats,” that the choice is “downright silly.” Chances are good that DDT selected Nauert to downgrade the U.S. involvement in the UN.

Another new DDT nominee is Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley for the new chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. An odd choice, Milley disagrees with several DDT positions. Milley has said:

  • The duty of soldiers and officers is to the U.S. Constitution, not any political party or figure.
  • Russia and China are the most dangerous potential foes; “the faint clouds of a coming storm are visible on the horizon.”
  • Korea is “the most dangerous near-term threat to the U.S.”
  • Barring new transgender recruits from enlisting has no military rationale. Earlier this year, he testified year that he’s “received precisely zero reports of issues of cohesion, discipline, morale and all those sorts of things” as a result of the presence of transgender troops.

Like DDT, Milley does believe in a big military budget. He said:

“Failure to pass the budget, in my view as an American citizen and the chief of staff of the United States Army, constitutes professional malpractice.”

One of DDT’s judicial nominees, Thomas Farr, may lose a confirmation for the fourth time despite VP Mike Pence’s vote to advance him. Known for his racist positions on segregation and voter suppression, Farr alienated even Tim Scott (SC), the GOP’s only black senator, who wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal to keep Farr from representing a region with 30 percent black population.

“I am saddened that in the editorial “Democrats and Racial Division” (Dec. 1) you attempt to deflect the concerns regarding Thomas Farr’s nomination to the federal bench. While you are right that his nomination should be seen through a wider lens, the solution isn’t simply to decry ‘racial attacks.’ Instead, we should stop bringing candidates with questionable track records on race before the full Senate for a vote. […]

“We must not seek to sow the seeds of discord, but rather embrace the power of unity. Simply put, if the Senate votes on a candidate that doesn’t move us in that direction, I will not support him or her. Our country deserves better.

After voting to confirm over 99 percent of DDT’s judicial nominees, many of them racist, Scott finally drew a line when he refused to follow his party to confirm Farr. Scott’s white cohorts have not reached that line yet; they continue to support nominees with “questionable track records on race.”

Robert Wilkie, VA Secretary, one of these “questionable” appointments, praised Confederate President Jefferson Davis as a “martyr to ‘The Lost Cause'” and an “exceptional man in an exceptional age.” He also called abolitionists who opposed slavery “radical,” “mendacious,” and “enemies of liberty” and said the Confederate “cause was honorable.”

Race isn’t the only line that the administration crosses:

  • Karen Budd-Falen, an ally of right-wing extremist Cliven Bundy who led an armed standoff with federal officials, is the deputy solicitor for Parks and Wildlife working on issues related to endangered species, wildlife refuges, and national monuments.
  • Adrian Zuckerman, nominee for Romanian ambassador, was sued for sexual harassment by his former secretary.
  • Lane Genatowski, nominee to head a cutting-edge research program in the US Department of Energy (DOE), is personally invested in various natural gas-based utilities and gas pipeline companies.
  • Andrew Smith, head of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, has over 120 conflicts of interest after working for a law firm with a huge number of corporate clients including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Uber.

Almost all DDT employees are endangered species except his family. The latest one to surface is DDT’s vice president. Trump’s 2020 strategy meeting last Monday questioned whether Pence should be on the ticket because he “doesn’t add anything.” DDT has been questioning Pence’s loyalty for weeks, and advisors are pushing DDT to replace Pence with Nikki Haley. Pence has spent years lying for DDT, covering for him, and swallowing criticisms. But DDT has no loyalty to others: he just demands it for himself.

November 25, 2018

Climate Report Projects Disaster with DDT’s Policies

Filed under: Climate change — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
Tags:

The U.S. government tried to bury a disastrous government climate report this past week by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving. CNN aided and abetted the debacle by allowing twice-failed presidential candidate Rick Santorum to spread his toxic misinformation about climate change on a network that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claims is “fake news.” When Santorum speaks, DDT is right.

CNN paid Santorum to accuse scientists knowledgeable about climate change of being “driven by money” and praised DDT for burying the government-funded report. He grins when he is told, “California was literally burning last week. This is not normal.” At least 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the last century’s climate change is “extremely likely” due to human activities, but Santorum collects money for disagreeing.

Every four years, Congress requires the National Climate Assessment—the most comprehensive scientific study thus far, describing the effects of climate change on the U.S. economy, public health, coastlines, and infrastructure. DDT’s political appointees wanted to water down the 1,656-page findings by 300 scientists from 13 federal agencies, but doing so would violate the law. Instead, they released it on Black Friday with the hopes that no one would notice its conclusions.

Climate change can reduce ten percent of the U.S. GDP, over double that of the recession of 2008. Already the growing disaster has increased water scarcity in dry areas, drenching downpours in wet regions, and more recurring severe heat waves and wildfires. To slow down climate change, President Obama’s policy, the Clean Power Plan, tried to cut planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants and helped broker the Paris Agreement.

Climate change costs by the end of the century: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise, and $32 billion from infrastructure damage by the end of the century. Damaging weather cost the U.S. nearly $400 billion since 2015, and extreme heat could cost over one-half billion labor hours by 2100 in just the Southeast.

Solutions to slow climate change: A price such as taxes or fees on greenhouse gas emissions, government regulations on greenhouse pollution, and government funding on clean-energy research.

Affects on regions: droughts curbing hydropower and increasingly limited water supplies in the Southwest, coastal flooding and erosion from loss of sea ice in Alaska, greater flooding in the Midwest that destroys crops and can shut down nuclear power plants as it did in 2011, more frequent wildfires in the Southeast, saltwater-tainted drinking water in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, death from heat waves, and increased disease outbreaks. This interactive map shows the increase in heat throughout the U.S. Since I was born, the number of days over 90 degrees in my hometown has increased by about 8 percent; by the end of the century, the number will have increased by over another 50 percent.

Trade disruptions: Shuttering factories in the world, including the United States, from extreme weather events caused by import and export prices. For example, extreme 2011 flooding in Thailand doubled hard drive prices from Western Digital, a U.S. company producing 60 percent of hard drives for companies such as Apple, HP, and Dell.

Agricultural risks: Declines in crop yields and quality throughout the world from rising temperatures, drought, wildfires on rangelands, heavy downpours, and extreme heat accompanied by problems with livestock health.

The Guardian quoted these pieces from the report:

“[The] earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future.”

Average sea levels along the US coast have increased by around 9 inches since the early 20th century as the oceans have warmed and land ice has melted.

Fisheries, tourism, human health and public safety are being “transformed, degraded or lost due in part to climate change impacts, particularly sea level rise and higher numbers of extreme weather events.”

Wildfires have burned at least 3.7 million acres in the U.S. in all but three years from 2000 to 2016. “More frequent and larger wildfires, combined with increasing development at the wildland-urban interface portend increasing risks to property and human life.”

More than 100 million people in the U.S. live in places with poor air quality, and climate change will “worsen existing air pollution levels.” Increased wildfire smoke risks heightening respiratory and cardiovascular problems, while the prevalence of asthma and hay fever is also likely to rise.

Major groundwater supplies have declined over the last century, with this decrease accelerating since 2001. “Significant changes in water quantity and quality are evident across the country,” the report finds.

Climate change will “disrupt many areas of life” by hurting the US economy, affecting trade and exacerbating overseas conflicts. Low-income and marginalized communities will be worst hit.

What DDT is doing with climate change:

  • Promotes planet-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plans.
  • Suppresses alternative renewable energy sources.
  • Pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, supported by almost all countries in the world.
  • Cut back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Ended the current moratorium on coal mining leases.
  • Fast-tracked new fossil fuel proposals and supported new fossil fuel infrastructure. This includes opening up almost 77 acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling.
  • Eliminated regulations including President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
  • Dropped a requirement for mining companies to prove they had enough funds to clean up the pollution they cause.
  • Auctioned off land for fracking.
  • Signed legislation to open up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling,
  • Plans to use taxpayer money to keep coal power stations open.
  • Said that global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese to attack U.S. manufacturing.
  • Appointed climate change sceptics and denying advisers and Cabinet members from the dirty-energy industry.
  • Ordered the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, an action temporarily stopped by the courts.
  • Ridiculed the idea of climate change because of the Northeastern cold snap. (Think about Jim Inhoff (R-OK) carrying a snowball onto the Senate floor as proof against climate change.)

Over a month ago, DDT was asked about the climate report from the United Nations. He had no answer except for wanting to know “who drew it.” That was the end of any comment from DDT regarding the scientific findings from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A week later he did comment during a 60 Minutes interview about climate change, “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again.”

The document states:

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

White House spokesman Raj Shah used the “changing climate” excuse for the upcoming disaster while deputies of former EPA director removed the above conclusions about human influence from its websites earlier this year. The agency removed pages existing for years that provided information about scientific causes of global warming, consequences, and methods of mitigation and/or adaption. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management no longer provides access to documents assessing the danger that future warming poses to deserts in the Southwest. The U.S. Geological Survey removed the term “climate change” in a press release from its scientists’ article in Nature about the affect of climate change and human population growth on places where rain-fed agriculture could thrive.

Over 25 coastal U.S. cities are suffering from far more flooding: king tides frequently raise the ground water in Miami into the streets because it’s built on limestone. A rise of over eight feet, possible by the end of the century, could inundate the city, and the United States is doing nothing about the problem.

Prior to the release of the report, DDT tweeted:

“Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?”

Like Inhoff and other climate change deniers, DDT confuses weather and climate. Sad.

November 11, 2018

DDT ‘Low Energy’ on 100th Anniversary of World War I

World War I ended at 11:11 am on November 11, 2018—100 years ago today. Thirty-two countries fought in the four-year war that killed nine million combatants and seven million civilians, followed by genocides and the 1918 influenza epidemic, which caused between 50 and 100 million deaths worldwide. One-fifth of the world’s population of under two billion people were infected by the 1918 flu.

In commemoration of the solemn event, French President Emmanuel Macron called over 60 countries together for a three-day Paris Peace Forum, and many world leaders attending commemorative events in France. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Canada’s National Memorial in France at Vimy Ridge on Saturday, and Macron went with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) to Compiègne, 80 miles northeast of Paris, where the peace agreement was signed on November 11, 1918. “We owe it to our soldiers,” said Macron about their journey.

Around 1,000 members of the public, including French and German schoolchildren, were invited to the ceremony. Sixteen-year-old Mickaël Arlin, 16, who was visiting World War I commemorative sites, said:

“It has helped us understand what is at stake today and helped us go further than just words.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who flew to Paris for the weekend, cancelled his visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, next to the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood where American Marines stopped a German offensive in 1918. The remains of 2,289 war dead are buried at the Aines-Marne cemetery is home to the remains of 2,289 war dead. DDT, 72, stayed in Paris and watched television, sending Chief of Staff John Kelly, 68, in his place. Winston Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames, tweeted:

 “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”

David Frum, George W. Bush’s speech-writer and political commentator, tweeted:

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary—and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.”

A concern from some is that DDT lacked the strength to make the trip to the cemetery. After the adrenalin-pumping events of rallies for almost two months, DDT reportedly seemed distracted and disengaged, according to the WaPo, especially after his losses in the midterm elections and his problems with journalists. During his meeting with Macron, DDT seemed subdued, almost “sullen.” Kelly Magsamen, who served as a high-ranking Pentagon official on Asia affairs, used DDT’s term in a tweet with the description, “It’s real low energy.” That was DDT’s pejorative term for his opponents, and he ridiculed President Obama by calling him feckless and weak on the world stage.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool – RC17A17FAAE0

The only time DDT looked delighted was seeing Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Arc de Triomphe. DDT had not seen Putin since the Helsinki summit in July. WaPo columnist Brian Klass wrote:

“Putin murders journalists & opponents, recently used a nerve agent to assassinate a dissident on British soil, annexed Crimea, facilitates war crimes, and attacked American democracy. This is how Trump reacted when he saw him.”

David Schneider advised his Twitter followers:

“Find someone who looks at you the way Trump looks at Putin.”

The photo (left) showed part of the warm greeting between the two that included nods, shoulder taps, and thumbs-up. DDT denied that he planned to talk with Putin in Paris, but Putin told Russian news agencies that he did talk with DDT.

DDT skipped the meetings to explore ways for world peace. Instead he flew home today, sending angry tweets about taking federal aid from California because of the current disastrous fires and claiming that counting the ballots in Florida is a “STEAL.”

DDT had become angry with Macron for his statement that Europe must be able to “defend itself alone—and without relying on the United States—in a more sovereign manner.” Macron tried to calm DDT’s anger but claims of “good friends” were not supported by body language. Europe has become increasingly upset with DDT after he has pulled out of accords such as the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Russia nuclear agreement.

Weeks ago, DDT declared himself a “nationalist” in campaigning for Republicans; in Macron’s speech today to over 80 world leaders, he said:

“Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying, ‘Our interests first, who cares about the others,’ we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what gives it grace and what is essential: its moral values.”

DDT has returned from his non-productive 44-hour 3,800-mile trip and faces the same problems he left—viral opposition to his replacement for AG Jeff Sessions, Democratic House members discussion what they will investigate in his administration, spending bills that cannot pass without Democratic approval, the hush money case about women, immigration problems, constitutional concerns of birthright citizenship, and the killing of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi complete with recordings of Saudi Arabians’ murdering him while he wants the Saudis to keep giving his business money. No wonder he’s low energy.

November 7, 2018

Midterms Lead to New U.S.

Midterms 2018 ended last night after the most vicious campaigning that I can remember. In a bittersweet victory, elections brought at least 27 additional Democrats to the House, giving them a majority in the 435-seat chamber and splitting the Congress as the Senate keeps a GOP majority. Three Democratic incumbent senators in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota lost their re-election bid, and the GOP incumbent in Nevada has been replaced by a Democrat. Two other races in Arizona and Florida are still undecided, and a third in Mississippi heads to a recount because no candidate got over 50 percent of the votes.

In seven states, GOP gubernatorial positions lost to Democrats in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin. The new number of Democratic governors gave the party trifectas in 14 states—those with the same party in both legislative chambers and the governor. The number of GOP trifectas shrank from 34 to 22, leaving 14 states split between the two parties. Going into redistricting for state and federal legislative representation in 2020, Democrats have “regained majorities in seven [state] chambers and flipped 350 seats from red to blue nationwide,” according to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The flips leave 23 Democrats and 26 Republicans in charge of the 50 states. Stacey Abrams has not conceded to Brian Kemp in Georgia; she is waiting until provisional and absentee ballots are counted, ballots mandated by a court ruling after Kemp, also Secretary of State, had purged or thrown away. Since 2010, Kemp has purged over 1.4 million voters from registration, including 660,000 last year and almost 90,000 this year. Another 53,000 couldn’t vote until the court ruling because of typos; almost 80 percent of these registrations were from black voters. If Kemp drops below 50 percent of the vote, he will be forced into a runoff election with Abrams. Kemp prepared to fight a loss by claiming that Democrats had hacked the voting system, but he has a long record of carelessness and lack of investigation as P.R. Lockhart describes.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker may have the highest profile of the Democratic flips. Almost eight years ago, at the beginning of his first term, he declared war against unions, teachers, voters, etc., but his decision to provide over $4.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies, the biggest in U.S. history for a foreign corporation, to bring tech plant  and key Apple supplier Foxconn to his state may have helped his downfall. With a cost of up to $1 million per job, averaging $230,000 per job, Foxconn is “trying to tap Chinese engineers through internal transfers to supplement staffing” because “it’s very difficult to find skilled labor in our market.” University of Wisconsin-Madison students worry about intellectual property and academic freedom in a Foxconn takeover, and residents of Wisconsin and neighboring states are concerned about the loss of Lake Michigan’s water when the company uses as much as 7 million gallons per day from the lake, 39 percent of it lost through evaporation. Foxconn, the single largest employer in mainland China with 1.3 million employees, became known for the large number of employee suicides at its enormous Longhua plant in Shenzhen. Life at “iPhone City.”

Yesterday’s election brought several “firsts”:

  • Governor-elect Jared Polis (D-CO): First gay man to be elected governor.
  • Governor Kate Brown (D-OR): First bisexual to be re-elected for a second time—or even a first time!
  • Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):  At the age of 29, youngest woman elected to Congress.
  • Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-MA): First black representative from Massachusetts.
  • Reps.-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-): First Muslim representatives; Tlaib the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress and Omar, an immigrant, the first Somali-American in Congress.
  • Reps.-elect Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Deb Haaland (D-NM): First Native American representatives; Davids also first lesbian representative from Kansas.
  • Rep.-elect Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL): Immigrant from Ecuador flipped a GOP seat.
  • Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): First female senator from Tennessee.
  • Gov.-elect Janet Mills: First female governor of Maine.
  • Rep.-elect Abby Finkenauer (D-IA): First woman representative from Iowa.
  • Rep.-elect Johana Hayes: First black woman representative as well as one of the youngest, matching Ocasio-Cortez at 29 years old.
  • Reps.-elect Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): First Latina representatives from Texas, a state that is over one-third Latinx.
  • Gov.-elect: Lou Leon Guerrero (D): First woman governor of Guam.
  • Iowa State Sen.-elect Zach Wahls (D-IA): 27-year-old winner of 78 percent of the vote, seven years after he stood before the state House of Representatives to defend marriage for his two lesbian mothers.

The oddest win came when pimp Dennis Hof won a seat in the 36th Nevada State Assembly. The Republican died three weeks before the election, but voters wanted a Republican. Iowa voted for bigotry by re-electing Steve King to the House, and California and New York supported indicted representatives with Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter. (Remember when the GOP ran as the “party of law and order”?) Racism was also victorious in Florida and perhaps Georgia in the governor’s races. Florida also voted to inundate cities with the sea rise with narrow wins for the GOP governor over Andrew Gillum and perhaps a GOP senator over the Dem incumbent.

Over 100 women will be seated in the House of Representatives for the 116th Congress, far more than the record of 85 of the 435 House seats. Thus far women of color will comprise at least 38 of these seats, and 18 of the 27 flipped seats from GOP to Dem were earned by women, all except two against male opponents.  Projections of 98 women in the house include 84 Democrats and 14 Republicans; the Senate has 12 women, ten Dems and two Republicans. Veterans Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) both won; Amy McGrath, former Marine fighter pilot, narrowly lost a House race in Kentucky. Despite false smears from Tea Party incumbent opponent, Dave Brat, Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) had a big win, especially as the first Democrat in this district in a half century.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Department of (In)Justice (DOJ) AG Jeff Sessions set the scene for the loss of the House by claiming voter fraud before the election, using the same tactic DDT did in 2016 until he took the Electoral College. DDT lied at a recent campaign rally in Cleveland with the false claim that voter fraud is commonplace. The United States has almost zero voter fraud while the GOP perpetuates voter suppression, intimidation, and a massive number of lies about their policy positions. The greatest GOP claims of voter fraud came in races where GOP positions are most at risk, including at least six governors, some senators—including Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas—and many representatives.

Session left his job hours after the election when DDT asked for Sessions’ resignation and appointed his bootlicker Matthew Whitaker as the acting AG. Whitaker, good friends of possible Russian colluder Sam Clovis, has constantly lambasted the Robert Mueller investigation, calling it a witch hunt—just like DDT—and limiting “the scope” of the investigation. In his new position, Whitaker will be in charge of Mueller and his investigation, giving a direct pipeline to DDT about any discoveries and curtailing Mueller’s activities. In a segment on Whitaker, Rachel Maddow discussed Whitaker’s strategies for doing away with the investigation such as not funding it and telling lawyers not to cooperate. Much more about Whitaker. Whitaker has defended Donald Trump Jr. for his Trump Tower meeting when DDT’s son looked for dirt on Clinton from the Russians, part of Mueller’s investigation. Whitaker also believes that “[Hillary] Clinton clearly intended to send and store top secret, classified information on an unsecured, personal server, which I believe is a case that any reasonable prosecutor would bring against her or anyone else who committed such reckless acts.” As for corruption, Whitaker was part of World Patent Marketing, fined $26 million by the federal company of running a multimillion-dollar scam. Democratic legislators are protesting Whitaker and stopping the investigation, and protests are organized across the nation for 5:00 pm tomorrow.

After delivering fire and brimstone at his campaign rallies during the last two months, DDT said the day before the election that he “would like to have a much softer tone” but that he had “no choice” in his rhetoric.  He wished for more harmony between Republicans and Democrats after the election but added, “If you’re criticized you have to hit back.” Hours after his interview with a conservative Sinclair station, he delivered his usual racism and hatred in a campaign rally and tweeted threats to Democrats after he got the election results. If Democrats dare investigate him, he claimed, he will institute investigations “of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else” by the Senate and refuse to work with them on substantive issues. [News, DDT: the Senate doesn’t investigate the House, and no one thinks that you can work with anyone.]

In today’s press conference, DDT had a meltdown after CNN reporter Jim Acosta questioned him about the Russian investigation and the term “invasion” for the immigrant caravan in Mexico. Hours later DDT made the unprecedented move of suspending Acosta’s press credentials for the White House. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders falsely accused Acosta of “placing his hands on a young woman” on an intern when he calmly raised his arm to keep her from taking his microphone. Acosta held on to his microphone and said, “Pardon me, ma’am.” The exchange is shown here; you can decide the truth for yourself.

DDT continued his attacks at the unhinged press conference by snapping at journalist April Ryan to “sit down,” abusing GOP lawmakers who lost elections, accusing PBS Yamiche Alcindor of asking a “racist” question about DDT’s “nationalism,” babbling an answer about uniting the country, and shouting down questions about women’s defeating GOP House candidates. In a weird somber tone, he called out the names of GOP representatives, almost joyously blaming their losses for not wanting his “embrace.”  DDT also claimed that he has a “solution” to abortion but won’t tell anyone what it is. (Maybe the one to the left?)  Jake Tapper’s response to DDT’s behavior at the press conference: “That’s how gangsters act.”

The stock markets like the split Congress, a sign of government inactivity; the Dow Jones shot up over 500 points today. Watch for DDT to take credit for economic success because of the GOP loss.

October 30, 2018

Voters: ‘Don’t Take the Bait’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came up with a new diversion today. He doesn’t want people to notice that the Republicans plan to get rid of pre-existing conditions on health plans and eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. He doesn’t want people to notice that the national debt is ballooning and the deficit is rapidly increasing because he is giving money to the wealthy and big business that he had promised to use for help to the other 80 percent. And he certainly doesn’t want people to know—right before the midterm elections—that they will suffer from his new policies. His strategy is to tell them that he is taking care of the non-existent immigration problem.

Today he told today that he plans to sign an executive order to overturn an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to strip people in the United States of their citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment that specifically stated that almost everyone born in the U.S. automatically becomes a citizen was to erase the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford that blacks are “regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

People are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. if they are bound by its laws. Removing citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants would make these children immune to U.S. law altogether: the federal government could not arrest, detain, or deport them.

A decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) gave a “limited exemption” that excluded children of members of Indian tribes, children born of alien enemies in hostile invasion and occupation, and children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign state—the latter two already exempted from citizenship by earlier law. Wong Kim Ark, a laborer, was born in the United States to “persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the emperor of China.” The Supreme Court ruled that he was a citizen.

DDT’s appointee to the federal bench, Judge James Ho, may be the most conservative person to reach that position via DDT. His first judicial opinion ruled all campaign contribution limits unconstitutional, railed against the Affordable Care Act on an originalist basis, and laments—in his terms—the “moral tragedy of abortion.” Even this judge firmly from the lunatic fringe agrees with the 14th Amendment and not DDT. Or at least he did in 2011.

Even a racist Supreme Court rejected the idea over a century ago; the question is what the current GOP Supreme Court will do. Is allowing a president to arbitrarily overturn the constitution a bridge too far for Chief Justice John Roberts?

Republicans fought President Obama in any change of federal immigration law. That, however, may not block DDT’s power over immigration policy. They will probably agree with DDT that his position on citizenship is good campaign fodder.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is back to cozying up with his buddy DDT with his announcement that he will introduce a bill to replicate DDT’s executive order for ending birthright citizenship. Success for Graham requires two-thirds majorities in both congressional houses and ratification by three-fourths of the states. DDT has announced—wrongly, as usual—that an act of Congress can overturn the constitution and maybe even an executive order can accomplish that goal. Despite DDT’s lies, most countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada, have forms of birthright citizenship.

VP Pence followed his claim that “we all cherish” the 14th Amendment by saying:

“The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.”

Axios, which tries to give the appearance of a mainstream internet media source, is in DDT’s pocket. That’s the reason that DDT gave Axios’ Jonathan Swan his press release about his new non-existent plan to change the constitution with an executive order. Like Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Swan passively nods to every crazy GOP idea designed to hurt people. DDT delivers his wacko message, and Swan says, “Exactly.” Swan did tell DDT that his plan is “very much in dispute.” No, it is completely unconstitutional. But Swan tweets:

“Excited to share with you the first snippet from our interview with President Trump yesterday, ahead of the launch of Axios’ HBO show this Sunday evening.”

For Swan, it’s all about the ratings through enabling DDT, not the horrifying possibilities of DDT’s plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged voters not to “take the bait.” She added:

“He’ll say anything before the election. Don’t take the bait. Focus on ending the hate. Hug a kid. Be nice to someone you don’t know or agree with. And vote. Please vote.”

Klobuchar is right about not being distracted and being sure to vote. DDT uses his craziness to club people over the head with his immigration distractions. At the same time, he encourages white supremacy throughout the United States and puts everyone of color into great danger. He promotes his racist hatred to incite violence and killing, to reinstate the white genocide of the 19th century in the United States and promoting the election of only Republicans who will protect no one except wealthy white people.

The FBI concluded a year ago that white nationalists are as threatening to the U.S. as ISIS and that the threat of white nationalists will only grow. White supremacists have carried out three times as many attacks in the United States as people associated with ISIS, but the government holds no congressional hearings on white nationalist attacks. For the first 20 months after his inauguration, DDT protected and supported white nationalists; this past month he moved forward to declare that he is one of them by calling himself a “nationalist.” DDT has affiliated himself with white supremacists to help them drive everyone of color out of the United States. He follows his belief that he can do anything he wants without losing any support.

DDT claims that his self-identification of “nationalist” isn’t racist, yet his speech excoriating people of color overcomes this false claim. He also claims that he has nothing to do with any of the increasing violence in the nation; people are just doing it on their own without attention to his words, according to DDT. If his words mean nothing, why does he keep talking? Why does he keep attacking women and people of color? Because he loves the control and knows that some of the people will follow his “dog-whistles” to commit violence in his name.

If you want to protect democracy, if you want to keep the United States from being an armed battleground where no one is safe either inside or outside homes, don’t be discouraged by the GOP voter suppression that tries to keep everyone except the Republican base from casting ballots.

Vote! (And the deadline is November 6, no matter what Republicans tell you.)

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