Nel's New Day

February 5, 2018

Dueling Memos Accompanied by Dropping Stock Markets

Remember when Congress passed the last stall to the spending bill on January 22, 2018? That was the one they passed because they couldn’t meet the December 21, 2017 deadline when they couldn’t meet the October 1, 2017 deadline. No problem! They claimed they could get a spending bill in three weeks. Everyone knew they couldn’t. The House passed an unconstitutional anti-abortion bill that lost in the Senate, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) deliver the dud memo that DDT thought would save him from an investigation. It did garner Nunes’ opponent, Democrat Andrew Janz, $300,000 for his campaign in 72 hours. And Congressional members also wandered off to West Virginia for most of a working week while hitting a garbage truck on the way.

The next deadline is this Thursday, and nothing has been done to move forward on it. Republicans promised to deal with the immigration issue but only holds the DACA Dreamers hostage. The next spending bill delay piles the bill on top of a DACA immigration deadline on March 5 and the debt ceiling, a month closer to early March because the Treasury is giving handouts to the wealthy and big corporations.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is already taking extraordinary actions to pay the nation’s bills by suspending payments into federal employee retiree, health and disability funds. This time of the year is harder on the treasury because of income tax returns. Last year’s budget deficit was $666 billion, the largest since the recession recovery in 2013.

DDT claimed that he fired former FBI director James Comey because the agency was in “turmoil, but it was the firing that created chaos within the FBI. Both Comey’s and Andrew McCabe’s firings from DDT’s politicization have been responsible for the demoralized environment that has grown only worse from the smear memo from Nunes’ memo. about the surveillance warrant request for Carter Page. Even some Republicans are withdrawing from Nunes and his memo, rejecting the idea that the memo exonerates DDT.

If not outright “misrepresenting” facts, the memo omits information about the research and documents including the background going back at least three years before Page’s involvement with DDT. In August 2013, Page bragged about being an “informal advisor” to the Kremlin. In the memo, Nunes claimed that the FBI didn’t know anything about Page’s Russian connections until Christopher Steele’s dossier of summer 2016 that was paid for by Democrats after conservatives stopped paying for the investigation into DDT.

Discovering that people were not buying his take on the FISA warrant for Page, Nunes switched his focus to George Papadopoulos, asking why there was no warrant for him. Then Nunes left out information about Papadopoulos when he said he didn’t deserve a warrant, claiming that he only got drunk in London and criticized Hillary Clinton instead of the report that he told a diplomat about getting hacked emails with “dirt” on Clinton. He even claimed that DDT had never met Papadopoulos (center left), but a small meeting with the two of them in 2016 is documented in a photo from a campaign meeting.

In an effort to take attention away from his nothing-burger memo, Nunes told Sean Hannity that the real Russian collaborator is the Hillary Clinton that weaponized the FBI against DDT. Nunes claimed that the memo shows a “clear link” between Russia and the Clinton campaign, although the memo only mentions that the Clinton campaign paid for part of Steele’s dossier. Missing from the memo—and Nunes’ talking points—is that a conservative group initially commissioned the investigation on DDT because he was obviously the GOP presidential campaign.

Ellen Nakashima explained in the WaPo that another Nunes point in the memo was also wrong: the application for surveilling Page came from a political source, according to the request. Asked about this discrepancy on Fox & Friends, Nunes said the information was not good enough because it was in small print in a footnote:

“A footnote saying something may be political is a far cry from letting the American people know that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for dirt that the FBI then used to get a warrant on an American citizen to spy on another campaign.”

Failing to successfully communicate his lie about the memo vindicating him, DDT grew more desperate last Monday morning with a smear tweet about the Democratic senator from California with fake stories about his leaking information, “Little Adam Schiff …. Must be stopped!” During his tweets last weekend, DDT clearly indicated he approved the memo in order to block the investigation into Russian meddling with the presidential election.

The popularity of #release the memo came from “bots,” computational propaganda capable of sending massive numbers of social media messages which led to bots claiming they weren’t bots. The “fake” news from bots is changing behavior as shown in this detailed explanation of how a bot “personalizes” with “fake” photos and disseminates fake information about progressive causes.

The House Intelligence Committee has unanimously voted to release the Democratic memo that refutes much of what Nunes wrote. Once again, the ball is in DDT’s court. He has five days to decide whether to release or block it—probably while spweeting (sputter-tweeting?) more about Schiff “leaking” information. The committee can vote to override DDT if he blocks the release, and it can be read into the House record.

DDT has called Nunes a “Great American Hero.” The committee chair said he is keeping secret his “Phase Two” of the GOP investigation to focus on the State Department’s role in the early states of Russian investigation. Almost a year ago, Nunes recused himself from any investigations related to Russia because of an ethics charge that he was giving information to the White House. Charges were dropped last December, but his behavior may call on more ethics charges. Republicans report that as many as five more memos may appear, sure to provide more cover for DDT and avoid the nasty problems of the spending bill and the debt ceiling.

While the media buzz was primarily about Nunes’ memo, DDT set another record: today’s Dow Jones fall of 1,179 was the biggest ever, not even close to the 777 points lost on September 29, 2008. On the same day, the S&P lost its entire January gain, and the Nasdaq was down for the seventh of the last nine days. The Dow loss is on top of over a 1,000+ drop last week; the value equals a loss of over $1 trillion in the first five days of February. Although some people blame the upcoming increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, others say the reason is the rising bond market as the U.S. Treasury is borrowing more money. It has to pay for all those tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations.

Last year, investors ignored the possibilities of a trade war with China, a nuclear war with North Korea, and other fear that might have been discouraging to the stock market. The removal of regulations, especially for Wall Street, encouraged them to buy, buy, buy—driving the Dow Jones index up 10,000 points in the ninth year of its boom. Now the cheap money from global central banks may disappear with rising interest rates.

GOP said that the tax cut would cause big corporations to invest in businesses and hire more workers. Instead, corporations are sheltering more and more of their money or buying back ownership in their companies, an action that briefly drove up stocks. Rising wages and interest rates are a sign of inflation which the Fed will try to ward off by raising the interest rates again. Janet Yellen, who kept rates low, is no longer the Federal Reserve chair, and investors don’t know what the new chair, Jerome H. Powell, will do.

Energy corporations lack high earnings, resulting in the biggest drops in stock value, and health stocks were badly hurt by three large companies creating their own health care company for their employees. Tech stocks went down, and the new Apple I 8 and X phone suffered a downturn in sales. Oil prices went down. There’s not a crash, but the market may be “correcting,” a euphemism for going down.

Kellyanne Conway celebrated her one-year anniversary after inventing the term “alternative facts” by doubling down on the appropriateness of the GOP fictional perspective. In a radio interview, she decried the practice of fact-checking by saying that “Americans are their own fact-checkers” and they “have their own facts.” She added that “the stock market is something [Americans] know about because they’re part of the investor class,” forgetting that fewer than half of those “Americans” have any involvement in the stock market and pretending that the stock market equals the economy. (Maybe her next statement could be “ignorance is knowledge”?) All these people who Conway referenced will now know that the stock market dropped eight percent in as many days.

 

Advertisements

February 1, 2018

Darkness Descending: ‘The State of the Union’

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 11:09 PM
Tags: , ,

The day after the State of the Union (or “Uniom” as the White House invitations read), the lumbering, sniffling 80 minute speech of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) rapidly moved into oblivion as the Russian investigation took center front in the media. The event, however, should be noted in the annals of history, not for what was said as much as how seemingly insignificant comments indicated DDT’s continuing policies of fear, hatred, and control.

DDT’s language continued his obsession with white supremacy and military/police strength:

  • DDT’s use of “citizens” five times were mostly in addition to his demand for tight immigration, setting up a social hierarchy when he says that he wants to “protect our citizens.”
  • Three-fourths of DDT’s guests were members of the police or military, and he frequently referred to veterans, military, and officer and police.
  • The audience, in an event meant to be a speech to a joint session of Congress, twice burst out into “USA! USA! chanting, much like DDT’s rallies used to suppress protests.
  • DDT connected his emphasis on the “great American flag” and “In God We Trust”  to military and police order in a way that appeals to Christian Dominionism. (It might be noted that DDT’s wife, Melania, remained seated during his statement that “faith and family … are the center of American life.” She has not been seen with DDT after the revelation that he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep their relationship quiet.)

Among DDT’s guests were people of color, paraded in front of the audience to show how they would follow the white supremacist movement. Two couples were present because their children had been killed by the MS-13 gang members from El Salvador on Long Island. Their presence gave DDT the chance to lie about “thousands and thousands and thousands” of gang members removed or imprisoned by his efforts and brag about eliminating immigrants from legally coming into the country. The number is closer to 1,000—although that might be exaggerated—while ICE concentrates on deporting people who have lived lawfully in the United States for decades. One mother, Evelyn Rodriguez, said that her attendance was not for political gain, but to “get proper funding for the resources for our kids.” DDT President Trump ignored her wishes and used her presence to demand laws to close “deadly” immigration loopholes.

Another guest couple, a policeman and his wife, were applauded because they adopted the child of a opioid addict. The baby’s mother was not even named. She is Crystal Champ, and she’s now been clean for 40 days. Yet nothing was said about helping people forced to live on the streets and develop addictions while DDT’s budget cuts money for them.

DDT extolled the bravery of Ji Seong-ho, a defector from North Korea who rescues other defectors in Seoul after his multiple amputations. Overlooked in the tragic story is the fact that people from North Korea are not allowed into the United States because of DDT’s executive order, and those living here already cannot bring in their rescued family members if DDT has his way.

DDT began his speech calling for unity and then launched into his divisiveness, driving wedges with the use of immigration, religion, and patriotism by showing that some people—mainly white people—are better than others. He returned to his criticism of sports figures—many of them black—for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against blacks and blaming Latinx immigrants for their threat to public safety. One of his guests was an ICE agent, reinforcing DDT’s anti-immigrant focus. Three guests were a military member, and the fourth was a boy who put flags on the grave of veterans.

DDT told his usual plethora of lies about his prowess in the number of jobs, rising wages, unemployment, benefits of rising stock market, tax cut size and its relief for people, increase in family income for lowering corporate taxes, reduction in regulations, description of visa program, the safety net, etc.

Missing within his speech was any mention of women’s issues, deficits, healthcare, guns, Russia, FBI, and details in how he would accomplish any of his lofty goals. He had no guests other than those who he could use to pass his limited agenda—no educators, immigrants who contributed to the nation, domestic violence survivors, volunteers, students, etc. The only member of Congress who DDT recognized was the white supremacist who was shot by another white supremacist. DDT’s speech was reminiscent of the “chicken in every pot” advertising for Herbert Hoover about “Republican Prosperity” in 1928, the year before the crash. It was a fantasy to all the people in his base who he failed during the past year.

One frightening statement DDT made was to increase his authoritarian agenda:

“Tonight I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

DDT may consider that anyone investigating the president fits in this category. His “call on Congress” takes away an independence from federal agencies such as the IRS, FBI, DOJ, and consumer bureau. The GOP is so closely connected to the president that they could pass such a law, and DDT’s Supreme Court might uphold such an unconstitutional law.

Another DDT request is for a law that foreign aid “only go to friends of America,” a rapidly shrinking category.

People have so normalized DDT’s hatred and anger that his speech was an impressive performance to some. He stayed on his feet, clearly read the words from the teleprompter, and pronounced them correctly. As former Bush speechwriter and conservative David Frum explained it well:

“Look, you can train a seal to sit on the side of a pool for an hour and behave itself. That doesn’t make it no longer a seal.”

Kathleen Parker, conservative columnist, held out hope during DDT’s ensuing tweetlessness the next day. He lasted almost 36 hours after the speech with no tweets until his first ones damned the Democrats and expanded the wedge in the immigration issue. He then complimented himself for the biggest audience for a state of the union speech in history, but the number of watchers came in after those by Bill Clinton (1994), George W. Bush (2002), and Barack Obama (2010). He might get the record for the slowest speech. Bill Clinton spoke only ten minutes longer in 1995, but he said 4,000 words more than DDT’s 5,200 words. In polls for the speech, 48 percent gave him “very positive,” but that result is the lowest in the 20 years of responses. DDT’s approval was also enhanced by asking seven percent more Republicans than Democrats.

What is the State of the Union after DDT’s first year?

  • DDT’s approval rating hovering in the 30s for most of the year, at least 20 percent lower than any other recent president.
  • Only 3 in 10 people saying at the end of 2017 that the nation is heading in the right direction
  • The country more divided because of DDT, according to 67 percent of a survey respondents.
  • Several DDT campaign team under criminal indictment.
  • DDT’s pick for national security advisor already pleading guilty for lying to the FBI.
  • DDT under federal investigation for obstruction of justice and center of a serious sex scandal.
  • Sole legislative accomplishment unpopular tax breaks for wealthy and big corporations with no bipartisanship or regard for the wishes of DDT’s base with only two percent of people in a poll saying that it has led to any financial benefits.
  • Slowest job growth in six years when the economy was coming out of the Recession.
  • Black unemployment falling at a slower rate than the previous four years.
  • GDP growth of 2.3 percent worse than two of the past three years and far away from the four percent needed for the new tax bill.
  • Corporations spending less than 1 percent of their tax cut on bonuses.
  • Growing trade deficit.
  • Global crises, especially in North Korea.
  • Blackout on information from the Middle East including deaths, number of troops, and progress in taking back land.

The pundit who said that DDT “has some wind at his back” may have meant flatulence. Just like President Obama, DDT is turning the economy around; Barack Obama took over a recession and put the country on its feet. DDT is knocking it back down again.

July 8, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Four – Mostly Russia!

The last week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was dominated by North Korea, his world trip, the fallout from his commission’s demand to garner all the states’ voting data, GOP’s lies in their attempt to destroy health care, and, of course, his tweets. But there’s more.

The U.S. is rapidly losing its world leadership: a majority of people in the U.S. have more confidence in Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the country poised to take over the U.S.’s former position, than in DDT.

The White House publication of all its employees’ salaries shows a 37 percent discrepancy in male and female median earnings. Women’s median wage is $72,650 while men get $115,000. DDT’s gap is more than double the national gap of 17 percent and the largest since 2003. Of 22 staffers paid the highest in the White House, only five are women. In April, DDT revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order requiring companies with federal contracts to comply with labor and civil rights laws. DDT made it possible for all companies to pay workers unfairly.

Science has literally left the White House. The last three employees departed the science division of DDT’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Although 222,000 jobs were added in June, new manufacturing jobs were half those in February, and 59,000 of the new jobs were in health and services—the area on the GOP chopping block with Trumpcare. DDT promised at least a four-percent increase in the economy in his first year, but Wall Street is forecasting half that or lower, about the average since President Obama brought the nation out of its Bush recession. The recent slump of the dollar comes from the world view of U.S. economy. As the Fed normalizes monetary policy by raising interest rates, the government has lost its opportunity for cheap loans to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Less federal tax revenue indicates faltering personal income. Although people think that the country is in good shape because of rising stock markets, some experts have expressed concern about the future of stocks.

DDT is clinging to his travel ban, but it’s alienating people—even grandparents—because of the highly restrictive definition of “close” relatives connected to people applying to come into the country. The exclusion of grandparents as “close family members” has hit social media.

The extremist radical policies from DDT are facing courts and sometimes losing. Scott Pruitt’s EPA huge favor to the oil and gas industry last month has been overturned. The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt lacked authority to delay an Obama-era regulation cracking down on pollutants from drilling operations. /The EPA admitted that Pruitt’s two-year delay would have a bad affect on the health of children near oil and gas operations.

Tom Price’s HHS agency reported that the Affordable Care Act is “working as intended” because it protects insurers from big risks and moderates consumer premiums. The charge on plans with lower average risks that is transferred to higher-risk plans is neutral within every state. Another temporary plan, reinsurance, protects insurers from high-cost enrollees by paying companies for the first three years. Both plans are permanent in George W. Bush’s Medicare’s prescription program, Part D. Medicare Part D also assesses insurers collecting huge profits from the program and paying them to insurers with commensurate losses, but the GOP maintains that this is an insurer “bailout” for the ACA. Reinsurance reduced net claim costs by four to six percent in 2016. Stopping the program is driving up premiums for 2017 and 2018, thus the GOP is causing the infamous “death spiral” of health care.

Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are suing Betsy DeVos because of her delay in regulations to protect federal student loan borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools. The rules, set to take effect last July 1, prohibit colleges from forcing students to settle complaints through arbitration instead of court and make it easier for the borrowers to seek debt forgiveness.

The Hatch Act prevents government officials in the executive branch from involvement in political activity; a 2012 amendment added disciplinary action to its violation. Dan Scorvino, DDT’s social media director, may have broken this law when he tweeted in April that DDT’s supporters should defeat Rep. Justin Amash (MI) in the primary. It goes far beyond his vicious tweets that almost equal those of DDT. During DDT’s campaign, Scorvino tweeted an anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton atop piles of hundred-dollar bills and a Jewish Star of David that read, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Another violator is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for her retweeting a DDT message endorsing Ralph Norman, the Republican running for Congress in South Carolina’s 5th District. Norman won the special election.

Russia stays in the news:

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, finalized a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank the month before last November’s election when the bank was in court answering a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. DDT has also garnered almost $8 million from Russian government official Igor Zorin for Florida properties.

DDT’s longtime buddy Michael Cohen has lost his place in DDT’s inner circle to separate DDT from Russian connections. Cohen bought apartments from DDT, bullied DDT’s condo board into submission, and acted as intermediary with mafia-linked DDT business partner, Felix Sater, and Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko, soon after DDT’s inauguration. Artemenko gave Cohen documents to deliver to Michael Flynn before he was fired for Russian connections. Cohen denies reports that he met overseas with Russian officials and operatives, but he has acquired his own lawyer and refuses to provide documents to or appear before congressional intelligence committees.

Sater, a Russia-born real estate dealmaker who allegedly has organized crime links, is agreeing to testify in an international investigation into a Kazakh family’s dealings in the U.S. including the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City. Sater is a known mob informant who fled to Russia to avoid criminal charges. He was also in prison for slashing a man’s face with a broken cocktail glass. His history is here. DDT has said, “I am not involved in Russia.” That doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t involved with DDT. Others are also willing to report on DDT’s connection with financing the Trump SoHo in a front for money laundering.

Although Peter Smith, the man who may have been involved in Russian hacking, has died, the news about his attempts to get Hillary Clinton emails continues. A document of involved people lists senior members of DDT’s campaign, some of them now serving in the White House. Included are white supremacist Steve Bannon. DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior Agriculture Department adviser Sam Clovis, and the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  Security consultant Matt Tait, a Smith colleague, gave reasons “that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.” The UK cyber-analyst wrote about how Smith recruited him to verify the accuracy of emails.

What has DDT’s Department of Homeland Security to investigate Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting machines? Nothing.

Hackers from a foreign government—probably Russia—hacked at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including a nuclear facility in Kansas. DDT still hasn’t addressed the problem with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After DDT’s talk with Putin in Hamburg (Germany) this past week, Putin came away with the impression that DDT agreed that there had been no hacking into the U.S. election.

The company that provides cybersecurity for the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, may lose its contract. Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, has certifications issued by the Russian Security Service (FSB) which allows the Russian government to examine anything from Kaspersky. Its security software is also sold at U.S. retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that Kaspersky software could cyberattack U.S. infrastructure such as the electric grid, airlines, water utilities, etc. Former CIA station chief in Moscow, Steve Hall, pointed out the Russian control over all of Kasperky’s data:

“Any time [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are. There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.”

Last Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.” DDT is responsible for Cassidy’s frustration, and over two-thirds of people in the United States wish that DDT would stop the tweeting. The miserable attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were followed by a view of DDT’s fat ass in the air while he pummels a character labeled CNN. He didn’t create the video, but he retweeted it which makes it an official communication from the White House.

While in Germany, DDT attacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, claiming that all the foreign powers were talking about her email serve and tweeting that he “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.” A few DDT mistakes: Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server; he was not involved with the DNC; the CIA spies on foreign governments and wasn’t investigating cyber-attacks on Clinton.  And DDT continually says that Russia wasn’t involved in the hacking.

“‘The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held?’”

The above quotation is from DDT’s 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. He should read it sometime.

 

June 10, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty, Infrastructure Fails to Distract from GOP Problems

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:44 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Infrastructure was supposed to be topic of the week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). He tried very hard to use this topic to distract from his problems—such as testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee—but failed.

A major DDT problem is the Middle East. Immediately after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to end the eight-country blockade against Qatar, DDT tried to regain his popularity with his bullying, interfering stance toward the tiny, natural-gas rich country. The world, including the United States, may be confused about who is in charge of foreign policy. The $110 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia that DDT touts has been shown to be a giant con—only letters of interest or offers for enticement. Nothing has gone to the Senate, and none of the identified deals is new.  All began before DDT was inaugurated, including four frigates, first reported in 2015, and other items on the Saudi’s wish list such as 150 Black Hawk helicopters and the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system (THAAD). With low oil prices and a two-year war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia may not have the money as the country struggles to make their payments for past deals.

DDT’s caretakers kept him from tweeting for a solid 46 hours during the Senate testimony of former FBI director James Comey, but his rants returned. About Comey’s testimony, DDT tweeted, “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication … and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Earlier in the week, DDT smeared London Mayor Sadiz Khan after the terrorist attack on London Bridge. DDT is still bitter because Khan opposed DDT’s Muslim ban. Other DDT tweet attacks slammed his own Justice Department by blaming them for not submitting a “tougher version” of the “travel ban” to the Supreme Court. He also criticized his lawyers for not calling it a travel ban and thus destroyed their only argument to regain the ban. Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, was so disgusted that he withdrew his name last week from consideration as the Justice Department’s Civil Division chief.  In a poll, 59 percent responded that his tweeting is bad, and 69 percent want him to stop. A strong approval of DDT went from a peak of 30 percent in February to 21 or 22 percent now. Every demographic has shown a significant decline.

A question is whether DDT’s tweets are formal statements or just musings. Aides and officials like Kellyanne Conway and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly maintain that DDT’s tweets aren’t policy, but Press Secretary Sean Spicer called them the “official statements by the President of the United States.” Russel Neiss has put DDT tweets on the record by retweeting DDT’s messages with the White House letterhead. Neiss said, “These are serious words coming out of the highest office holder in the land, and all that this bot does is just give those messages the proper honor they deserve….These are statements of the president.” DDT is also threatened with a lawsuit after he blocked selected followers from his Twitter account. In a letter to DDT, Columbia University scholars wrote, “Blocking users from your Twitter account violates the First Amendment.” The argument is that his tweets are a public forum just as a Facebook page by a government official is.

Personnel is also a serious problem for DDT. He’s unhappy with his staff, but other people are increasingly reluctant to work for him. AG Jeff Sessions offered to resign, probably because of DDT’s anger at his recusal from anything Russian. Sessions didn’t keep to his promise, but he’s still not in charge of the investigation into Russian collusion and hacking. Sessions is trying to get back into DDT’s good graces by blaming New York City’s “murder epidemic” on humane treatment of undocumented immigrants. Last year, the city experienced its second lowest rate in history, and shootings were below 1,000 for the first time on record. Sessions is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

DDT also hasn’t made appointments for 442 of the 559 key positions requiring Senate confirmation. In February, he said that he didn’t want to fill “a lot” of key posts in his administration because “they’re unnecessary to have.” By April he said that the vacancies were a Democratic conspiracy against him. Yet Republicans control the confirmations; and DDT hasn’t sent names of nominees to the Senate. Only five countries in the world have U.S. nominees for ambassadorships waiting for confirmation: Bahamas, Ethiopia, Holy See, Japan, and New Zealand. A major country without an ambassador at this time is Great Britain.

A deadly hurricane season is predicted, and neither NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) nor FEMA has had anyone in charge since DDT fired everyone in January. DDT has also recommended huge budget cuts for both these agencies. He probably listened to Alex Jones who thinks that FEMA runs camps where people’s guns are taken away and NOAA wants to “intensify global warming” by outfitting planes with chemtrails. DDT may not know that NOAA tracks hurricanes to provide warnings, and FEMA coordinates disaster responses. DDT appointments, however, would most likely be selected because of their opposition to these missions.

White supremacist Steve Bennon appears to have returned as de facto U.S. president since DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, disappeared. In addition to the at least 20 waivers allowing conflicts of interest for his officials, DDT has retroactively granted a “blanket exemption” permitting Bannon to “communicate” with editors of ultra-right Breitbart “News,” Bannon’s old employment. The exemption might relieve him from a pending ethics complaint about past discussions with the editors. OGE director, Walter Shaub, said, “If you need a retroactive waiver, you have violated a rule.” Bannon’s ally Michael Peck may control U.S. government messaging abroad with a possible nomination to head the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

In an impressive analysis, Propublica has collected disclosures from 349 officials installed in DDT’s administration and analyzed their financial holdings and employment backgrounds for conflicts of interest and omissions. It’s a monumental—and invaluable—accomplishment. Check it out here.

DDT has also been stealing from his own foundation and charity. Earlier it was known that he used money donated by others to the Trump Foundation to settle his lawsuits plus purchasing a portrait and autographed Tim Tebow memorabilia, DDT has been found to overcharge the Eric Trump Foundation for annual fundraisers at one of DDT’s golf courses. DDT’s son said that DDT donated the facilities, but he charged $322,000 in just 2015 for 200 day golfers and 600 dinners. Another $500,000 was transferred from helping children with cancer to charities connected to DDT’s family or interests. He also has a history of taking credit when he failed to donate any money, for example to a nursery school serving children with AIDS and  $1 million for children with a rare disease.

In a partnership with the Houston-based Remembrance Project, DDT claimed to raise money to families of those killed by undocumented immigrants. For almost a year, he has gotten publicity while the group collected funds, but no families have been financially helped. The nonprofit project has filed paperwork to allow it to directly support or oppose candidates and to lobby for legislation.

Democratic members of Congress are being denied information from federal agencies because of DDT’s orders to ignore their requests. His excuse is that Republicans now control the entire government. GOP Sen. Grassley (IA) has told DDT that he has no right to withhold information unless Congress approves the action which has left 102 requests unanswered.

The percentage of people identifying as Republicans has dropped to 38 percent since the November election, and Democrats have increased to 45 percent. The seven-point gap is over three times in that seven-month period. Overall DDT’s approval ratings have slid to the 30s, and strong approval of DDT has dropped from a peak of 30 percent in February to 21 or 22 percent. Every demographic has shown a significant decline.

As fewer people look for jobs, the increase in the number of new ones is also shrinking. The 138,000 jobs created during May, down from the estimated 185,000, plus the downgraded totals of 174,000 in April and the 50,000 in May, make an average monthly gain of 121,000 for those three months. (Last year, over two million new jobs were created.) Retail jobs have declined for five straight months. For the fifth month in a row, auto sales declined—the first slump since the end of George W. Bush’s financial disaster. Consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.6 percent in April, down from the 6.2 percent rate in March. Borrowing rose only $8.2 billion, barely half the estimated $15.5 billion and 40 percent of March’s $19.5 billion. Consumer spending, accounting for two-thirds of U.S. economic growth, rose at a 0.6% annual rate in the first quarter, far short of DDT’s promised three to four percent, indicating a concern about the nation’s instability.

For now, DDT is at his home in Bedminster (NJ) for the weekend, probably playing golf in the 90+ degree weather.

June 5, 2017

U.S. Out of Paris Agreement: Make America Alone

Filed under: Climate change — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
Tags: , , ,

Today is World Environment Day, and last week Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced to the world that he was abandoning the 194 other countries that had signed the Paris Agreement in an attempt to save the planet from climate warming:

“As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.”

The decision followed his appointment of a climate denier to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, destruction of clean water and air regulations, and policies to give as much of the nation’s assets as possible to the wealthy—preferably himself.

The Paris Agreement is voluntary and not legally binding. DDT could have announced a shift in goals to a less ambitious plan. Backing out of the agreement will also require four years with the end on November 4, 2020, the day after the next presidential election. DDT tried to attract his base but alienated the world and unified millions of people to support action to slow climate change. Paris City Hall was just one of the “green” buildings around the world in solidarity against DDT’s announcement.

All DDT’s talk about being a “bad deal” for the nation is simply smoke and mirrors–misrepresentations of fossil fuel and employment reports, some of them from far-right groups to present a future dystopia of the U.S. Almost everything in his speech was false.

No matter what DDT claims, the shift to renewable energy and a low-carbon economy is “unstoppable.” President Obama stated, “The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created.” DDT is costing the nation a chance to benefit from jobs and economic growth from green technology in the future. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel just attended a ceremony for a new battery factory that would allow her country to become a leading supplier of electric car.

Slowing U.S. advanced energy market will put the nation’s companies at a massive competitive disadvantage. With no robust local market, people in the U.S. will buy energy technology in other countries. Reliance on fossil fuels instead of increasingly cheaper renewable energy will also force higher costs than competitors in the rest of the world. Air and water pollution costs the nation billions because of the health problems. Adopting clean energy would dramatically reduce health costs. Other countries may also require the U.S. to pay carbon-based taxes on any goods sold to members of the Paris Agreement—just about every country in the world at this time. Dropping out of the Paris Agreement has been called the worst thing for the American brand since the discovery of U.S. torture at Abu-Graib. Economically, it could be the worst thing since Bush lost trillions of dollars from his preemptive war against Afghanistan and Iraq.

The biggest loser in the decision to drop out of Paris Agreement is DDT himself. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said about George W. Bush’s dumping the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty in 2002 “that everything the American president does has international repercussions.” Bush’s national security advisor called the decision “a self-inflicted wound.” DDT’s Paris Agreement decision is much worse, giving other countries greater leverage in international affairs. For example, Russia used the Kyoto decision to get Europe’s backing in the World Trade Organization. DDT has just handed world leadership over to China or any other country that occupies the vacuum left by the U.S. departure. As George Schultz, former Cabinet member for Reagan and Nixon, wrote: “The United States is far better off maintaining a seat at the head of the table rather than standing outside.”

DDT claimed that he took the U.S. from the Paris Agreement because he didn’t want the nation to be a laughingstock. He is already the object of ridicule throughout the world and now shows himself to be a petty little person. Some media sources claim that his decision came from France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, ridiculing DDT’s weak handshake. Paul Krugman called it “sheer spite” directed at Barack Obama, much like all other DDT decisions.

The safety of white supremacist Steve Bannon in the White House has been cemented; he and Scott Pruitt were the only advisers to back DDT’s decision. Apparently, “globalist” daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, are out, and Bannon is in. Policy experts, business interests and environmental groups say it will hurt not only global efforts to address climate change but also U.S. standing in the world while doing little to revive the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

World Leaders:

France, Germany, and Italy issued a joint statement that the Paris Agreement cannot be renegotiated, despite DDT’s claim. Macron urged scientists to move to France where their talents can better serve humanity.

Former Mexico president, Vicente Fox Quesada, tweeted that Trump’s action “condemns this generation and those to come” and that “United States has stopped being the leader of the free world.” He also wrote to DDT, “You’re leaving a dark legacy just to satisfy your greediness. Today, you’ve surrendered the hopes and future of a nation.”

Business:

Big business, which might have formerly supported DDT’s anti-climate policies, are largely transinternational, giving them incentives for world-supported policies. Major corporations such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Wal-Mart have expressed support for the Paris Agreement. Over 60 percent of Exxon’s shareholders voted for the company to investigate how climate policies and changing consumer behavior will affect its assets. Tesla’s Elon Musk  and Disney CEO Robert Iger resigned as DDT advisers, and GE CEO, Jeff Immelt, tweeted: “Disappointed with today’s decision on the Paris Agreement. Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

DDT’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said that coal doesn’t “make that much sense anymore,” but that pushing renewables could make America “a manufacturing powerhouse.” Since DDT’s decision, Cohn is struggling to support DDT’s “broader economic agenda” but wouldn’t answer a question about whether he agreed with the decision.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman-Sachs and former Cohn colleague, sent his first tweet in the six years since he got his Twitter account: “Today’s decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.”

Media:

Even Fox network fought back when Chris Wallace answered Scott Pruitt’s assertion that China and India by saying “the reality is different from what the president said.” He added, “Aren’t you and the president protecting the horse and buggy business just as cars go online?” Wallace joined other talk show anchors such as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos by saying that Pruitt and DDT misinterpreted a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study.

Government Officials:

GOP governors such as Sam Brownback (KS) and John Kasich (OH) plan to continue their strong support of wind energy because of economic advantages. Wind power is saving the formerly coal state of Wyoming.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) tweeted: “As you can see, my office plant heard the news about the #ParisAgreement.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, in response of DDT’s using his city to justify his anti-climate decision: “Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh stands with the world & will follow Paris Agreement.”

Peduto set the tone for millions of businesses and people in the United States. Walmart plans 100-percent solar, and Google plans to run all data centers on renewable energy by the end of the year.

California, Washington, and New York, representing 20 percent of the nation’s GDP, have formed the United States Climate Alliance to include states committee to meeting emission reduction targets submitted to the Paris Agreement. Five more states, including two with GOP governors, have joined the group. California’s governor, Jerry Brown, plans to talk with China officials about merging a cap-and-trade program started in 2012 when he visits Asia this week. At this time, 27 percent of energy in California comes from renewable resources. Canada is also reaching out to U.S. governors to coordinate climate change work. Mayors of 187 cities representing 52 million Americans have vowed to uphold the commitment of the Paris Agreement. (Check to see if your city is here.)

A group of at least 30 mayors, three governors, 100 university presidents and chancellors, and 100 businesses is negotiating with the United Nations to have its submission with contributions to the Paris climate deal by other nations. At this time, there is no formal arrangement for this idea, but information from this group can be included in future reports on progress by Paris Agreement members. With the U.S. almost halfway to its goal, efforts from academia, business, and non-federal governments could make up the difference that DDT rejects.

On Monday, more than 1,000 companies and institutions, including more than a dozen Fortune 500 businesses, signed onto a statement, We Are Still In, with the commitment to meet the Paris targets. By then, a dozen states together representing the world’s third-largest economy were joined by other 200 cities committed to the Paris Agreement.

Forty-two years ago, the NY Daily News ran a headline on its cover, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” after President Gerald Ford rejected loans to the city that was close to financial disaster. The cover has returned in a different context. Meanwhile DDT went golfing at one of his courses for the 22nd time in 19 weeks.

The best analysis of DDT’s position and speech is from the comedian John Oliver—very well worth watching!

August 11, 2016

Trump: Terrorist, Liar

Sharron Angle, senatorial candidate from Nevada, made news six years ago when she suggested “Second Amendment remedies” to control Congress and defeat her incumbent opponent. She never directly told people to assassinate the then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and fortunately, no one tried to murder him. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wasn’t as fortunate. Rabin’s right-wing opponents described him as a “traitor” and “Nazi” because he wanted to make peace with the Palestinians and give them back their land, and Jewish extremist Yigal Amir killed the prime minister because the assassin thought he was serving his country through his actions.

The recent Republican convention fueled incendiary behavior toward Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, with constant cries of “lock her up” and speaker Chris Christie’s mock trial inciting shouts of “guilty.” Al Baldasaro, Trump’s advisor on veterans issues, called for Clinton to be executed in a firing line at least twice during the convention.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump controlled himself for an hour as he carefully read from teleprompters about his economic “plan” but rapidly moved back to the usual bombastic behavior. One statement has ignited the world after he lied about Clinton wanting to get rid of the Second Amendment—the right for militia members to carry guns.

“If she gets to pick her judges―nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know. But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”

The Trump people immediately returned to spin mode, claiming that it was a joke or a call for people to go out and vote against Clinton. As a joke, it goes far beyond poor taste. As for voting, the reference is to after the election—not before—and the last sentence, which most media ignore, indicates violence.

To suggest that Trump was literally telling people that they should kill Clinton is to indicate that he’s more mentally unbalanced than many pundits have proposed in the last few weeks. As a celebrity entertainer running for president, however, he’s normalizing violent solutions by joking about it in front of a large crowd. And his suggestion isn’t limited to just Clinton: he mentioned the judges—and implicitly anyone who opposes him, such as journalists and bloggers. This statement can inspire truly mentally-unbalanced individuals as other words have in the past. As journalist Chemi Shalev wrote:

“Like the extreme right in Israel, many Republicans conveniently ignore the fact that words can kill. There are enough people with a tendency for violence that cannot distinguish between political stagecraft and practical exhortations to rescue the country by any available means.”

David Cohen wrote in Rolling Stone about Trump’s stochastic terrorism—“using language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.’” Valerie Tarico wrote about this form of terrorism after a man killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs late last year:

  1. “A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
  2. With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
  3. Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past ‘purges’ against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
  4. When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the ‘tragedy.'”

Dr. George Tiller’s assassination in 2009 follows this pattern as does Trump’s actions:

  • Trump incessantly degrades and demonizes Clinton by calling her “Crooked Hillary” and calling her the “co-founder of ISIS.”
  • Trump produces a convention in which the idea of Clinton as a criminal is constantly repeated in order to increase disgust and fear toward  her.
  • Trump now uses “dog whistles,” “jokes,” and incomplete statements to encourage violence and wait for someone to take him up on his “suggestion.”

Trump has a reason for these extremist remarks. As the media published more and more information about his connection with Russia, he attacked the Khan family, parents of a fallen heroic soldier. The Pied Piper led his followers away from Russia, but the then the media reported on the possibility that his wife, Melania, is an “illegal alien”—to quote his followers—as well as his really bad economic speech.

In 2005, Melania Trump claimed that she was not married before meeting Trump, but a Trump Organization lawyer, Michael Wildes, said that the Slovenian citizen got a green card in 2001 “based on marriage” to live in the United States. He now says that he cannot discuss details because of privacy issues.

Her immigration status was already in question after recently-published nude shots indicated she began working in the U.S. a year earlier than previously stated. In addition, she said that she had to return to Slovenia every few months to renew her visa, not a requirement for the H-1B visa that she claimed to have. Her need for frequent renewals fits a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor or B-2 Tourist Visa, which typically last up to six months and do not permit employment except for domestic servants accompanying employers temporarily in the U.S. Using the B-2 visa for work would constitute visa fraud. Such fraud would raise questions about her current U.S. citizenship. Donald Trump stated that his wife had complied with the immigration laws and that she would be holding a “little press conference.” No time has been announced for this event.

The “Second Amendment” speech covered for those problems, but the Pied Piper called President Obama the “founder of ISIS” to lead the media in a different direction. ISIS started with Al Queda in 2003 and was perhaps strengthened only because of George W. Bush’s agreement to take all troops out of Iraq by 2011. Donald Trump is featured in at least pro-ISIS propaganda films.

Trump’s “Second Amendment” speech and the attacks on the president have not totally overcome Trump’s economic speech, especially after Hillary Clinton gave one today. In addition to his lies, he promised a moratorium on new regulations while criticizing China for “no real environmental or labor protections.” He promised “an across-the-board income tax reduction” that would benefit corporations and wealthy people. With tax cuts, he promised to double Clinton’s recommended spending on the nation’s infrastructure and put more money into the military.  He also promised a massive increase in tariffs, resulting in much higher prices for people in the U.S.

His complaint about the high tax rate forU.S. businesses skipped loopholes, credits, and deductions that brings the actual taxes paid down to 1.9 percent of the tax share last year—down from a high of 2.7 percent. Over 100,000 businesses in the U.S. paid zero taxes in 2012.

business income exempt corporate taxes

His accusations that the Affordable Care Act losing jobs is also false. Since the law went into effect, the nation’s economy added more than 14.6 million jobs, dropping the jobless rate to 4.9 percent from 9.9 percent.

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the GOP is to blame for a slow economic recovery because of budget cuts including the problems in 2011 regarding the debt ceiling, unwillingness to spend money, and lack of Medicaid expansion. Local, state, and federal conservatives are all responsible.

Here is the economic team that provided Trump with his failed ideas from the past.

The RNC is again frustrated by Donald Trump’s behavior. Chair Reince Priebus has told Trump that changes need to be made because of an impending failure for his candidacy, again trying to move Trump toward a more professional demeanor. The RNC is struggling with a decision to protect all the other GOP candidates at the risk of losing the presidency, and a decision must be made soon because early voting starts in a month. Trump threatened to quit fund-raising if any action is taken.

Trump has now decided that he can be bought. After ridiculing all his opponents for taking money from billionaires, he is now wooing them for donations, including the Las Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson. Both he and his vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, also plan to appear at events for the duo’s super PAC, legal if the candidates do not solicit more than $5,000. Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott has been named head of the super PAC that Trump has called horrible and corrupting. Last October, he said, “The character of our country is only as strong as our leaders.”

Polls are moving to favor a Clinton win, and even notable wackos such as Glenn Beck won’t support Trump. Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called keeping a GOP majority in the Senate “very dicey.” Of the 34 seats up for grabs, 24 of them are currently GOP-held with seven of them “very competitive,” according to McConnell. Democrats need four seats to take control if they also get the White House.

Only 88 days to go.

August 8, 2016

Stein, Trump – Bad for the Country

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:09 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Some grumpy supporters of Bernie Sanders keep saying that they’ll vote for Donald Trump and blow up the world or pick one of the two third-party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Jill Stein. Stein supports much of Sanders’ positions, many of them also ones that Hillary Clinton espouses. But many of her claims, such as not taking corporate money, are bogus:

  • Stein’s top five contributors are corporations—AON,  Xoom Global Money Transfer, IBM, Thoughtworks, and UPS.
  • Stein and her husband, Richard Rohrer, are worth at least $3.9 million. Their stock holdings include at least $100,000 worth of Disney, $100,000 worth of Home Depot, and $50,000 worth of Merck.
  • Stein’s personal choice for vice-president is Ajamu Baraka who refers to Sanders as a “white supremacist” and labels Sanders supporters as naive shills.  americablog.com/…
  • Stein is collecting money to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018, thereby giving the Massachusetts senate seat to the GOP by draining votes from Warren.
  • Stein’s political experience matches that of Trump—i.e., none. An ex-musician and medical professional, she has won one election—a town meeting representative in Lexington (MA)—with 539 votes.
  • Stein matches Trump in foreign policy positions as pro-Russian, follows his “simplistic” approach, and frequently changes her position as in being for Brexit and then against it.
  • Stein opposes mandatory vaccination policies and implied that vaccinations can cause disorders such as autism.
  • Stein claims that wireless signals are dangerous for children despite evidence that FM radio and television provides five times more of RF signals than base stations.
  • Stein’s job is running for office. For example, she raised about $1.3 million for her 2012 campaign, including $370,000 in public funding.
  • Stein has refused to release her tax returns for the past five years.
  • And more.

Sanders urges his followers to vote for Hillary Clinton, and some of his grumpy supporters have said that they will do anything that Sanders wants them to do—except vote for Clinton. If they implicitly believed him, why aren’t they trying to follow him now?

Trump Watch:  This morning, Donald Trump carefully read his plan for “America First” from a teleprompter in a flat, low-energy voice. He plans to drastically reduce taxes, emulating George W. Bush who started today’s deficit by reducing taxes for the wealthy and starting wars. Other goals are to spend billions and billions of dollars on the infrastructure, but he didn’t say where he’s find the money.

Trump promises a moratorium on any new regulations, like Mike Pence supposedly did as governor of Indiana. The purpose was to help the economy, but the state’s GDP growth was behind the national average in 2012, 2014, and 2015 while barely beating the average in 2013. Indiana ranks 38th in the nation for per capita income, and its unemployment rate is above the national average. Pence, unlike Trump and Clinton, supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump also promises unlimited deductions for child care which, like his other plans, provides far more help for the wealthiest because they can deduct their nannies. The poorest people, who need help with child care, don’t itemize their deductions. In his promise to bring all jobs back to the United States, Trump struck a cheery note missing at the Republican convention although he talked about how this nation doesn’t “win” anymore.

Trump’s common misrepresentation about Clinton is her support of NAFTA. First Lady when Bill Clinton signed the trade pact into law early in his presidency, Clinton was not in any position to stop the NAFTA trade pact. The law, passed by more Republicans than Democrats, was negotiated and signed by George H.W. Bush. Then House Speaker and current Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich supported NAFTA. And like Trump, Clinton wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Factchecker gave Trump Two Pinocchios for his lie. Trump also repeated his lie that Clinton would immediately change her rejection of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Instead of presenting a concrete jobs plan, Trump repeated old lies about how Hillary Clinton killed 100,000 jobs. She failed to get half the jobs she promised because of the George W. Bush economy, but she didn’t “kill” the jobs. The jobs that Trump brags about providing were three decades ago because of his construction in New York, but many of these were for immigrants, some of them undocumented. He also caused bankruptcies in small companies after he failed to pay them for work on his construction projects until they sued to get part of what they were due.

Trump also uses the nation’s visa system to hire foreign workers at low wages, for example, at Florida’s Mar-A-Lago Club which Trump calls home. While the resort worked to get over 500 work visas for workers, it hired only 17 of 300 U.S. residents who applied for work there. “I’m a businessman,” Trump said about the hiring of people who he talks to political audiences about taking jobs of U.S. residents.

Trump repeated—several times—his declaration about “93 million out of the workforce” that Politifact ruled “false” a year ago. It includes everyone of retirement age—65 and older (37.8 million people)—and every teenager at least 16 years old—high schoolers (9.7 million) and college students (5.7 million). Trump’s figure also includes disabled people who cannot work, parents wishing to stay home to take care of children, and people living off investments. The number “out of the workforce” is closer to 21 million: 8.3 million officially unemployed, 6.4 million people who haven’t looked for work recently enough to qualify as being “in the labor force,” and another 6.5 million people working part-time would rather have a full-time job.

Trump consistently gets a “pants on fire” for his lie about Clinton raising taxes on the middle classes. The GOP put a caption saying she wanted to raise taxes under a video of Clinton stating “we aren’t going to raise taxes on the middle class.” Repealing the death tax always gets cheers, but it applies  to only those estates worth over $5.45 million; last year one in 500 estates—0.002 percent—were subject to this tax. Supporters talk about protecting the family farm, and Trump promises that he’ll protect “workers” from this tax. Yet that’s never been a problem for either of these categories. Once again, Trump is protecting his wealth in a speech delivered in poverty-ridden Detroit.

According to Moody’s Analytics, Trump’s economic plan would:

  • Cost the economy over three million jobs;
  • Raise the unemployment rate by 40 percent;
  • Cost $9.5 trillion during the next decade;
  • Increase the national debt by almost 80 percent in two decades;
  • Lead to a recession and global economic panic;
  • Keep child care out of reach for working families.

Trump brags about saving New York City by building expensive structures, but he also cheated the city out of almost $3 million in taxes in just 1986 through “failures in basic bookkeeping, the seemingly sudden adoption of irregular accounting methods, and efforts to stymie officials,” according to a CBS “Moneywatch.” Among missing items for the audit were monthly ledgers detailing over six months of income and expenses—supposedly lost because of a flood in New Jersey and missing in a Chicago office.

More fact-checking on the speech from NBC. Plus a funny analysis from the NY Daily News.

Summary of the GOP’s presidential speech today: Trump thinks Clinton lies, he wants to lower taxes for the wealthy, he plans to do away with all regulations, and he won’t explain how his plans work—like where the money comes from to give to the wealthy. Nothing new as Donald Trump tries mightily to appear presidential.

The second most popular senator in the United States, Susan Collins (R-ME), announced that she will not vote for Trump. She’s joined in this opinion by at least ten other members of Congress and two GOP governors. In addition, 50 top GOP national security officers, mostly from the George W. Bush administration, signed a letter opposing Trump, declaring that he would be “the most reckless president in American history.” In their fervor to keep Trump from being president,  however, most of them stop short of saying that they will vote for Hillary Clinton, leaving the blame on them if he is elected president.

[Note: Conservative host on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, repeated the myth of Clinton’s dishonesty on yesterday’s program and failed to talk about Trump’s constant lying and the increasing percentage of people who doubt his honesty. A new poll puts Clinton and Trump even on trustworthiness but finds her higher in being temperamentally fit and knowledgeable about the world. After Todd trashes Clinton, he ponders about why people think that Clinton is dishonest. Let’s see: Todd says a large number of people think that she is dishonest, he has conservative guests who repeat what he says, and then he’s confused about the reason for this perception.]

May 6, 2016

Katha Pollitt: ‘Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote’

katha pThe Nation, which endorsed Bernie Sanders, was brave enough to publish an article by Katha Pollitt called “Why Bernie Didn’t Get My Vote” in the midst of all the Hillary Clinton bashing. She pointed out a few of the standard bits about why people are not voting for him followed by these excerpts:

“Bernie didn’t ask for my vote. Oh, you can go to his website and find a page of boilerplate setting out his general commitments to women’s rights: He’s in favor of equal pay, reproductive rights, the ERA, the Violence Against Women Act, childcare for all, and so on—a laundry list, indeed, of the causes dear to the heart of those often derided by his supporters as bourgeois feminists content with incremental change. I am aware, too, that Bernie has a good voting record on those issues in Congress. But there’s a difference between someone who votes the right way, and someone who introduces legislation and champions the issue. He never convinced me that gender issues, specifically the persistent subordination of women in every area of life, were of much concern to him.

“There were all those little tells. Pooh-poohing Planned Parenthood and NARAL as ‘establishment’ when he didn’t get their endorsement. Arguing for parental leave because it allows a new mother ‘to stay home and bond with her baby’ instead of as something that benefits fathers as well, and something that women need in order to work and advance on the job. Doubling down on the idiotic quip by his surrogate, Killer Mike (‘A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States’), with the pseudo-lofty pledge ‘No one has ever heard me say, “Hey guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.” I would never do that, never have.’ Is there a word for someone whose entitlement is so vast, so deep, so historically embedded, and so unconscious it includes the belief that they got where they are by a resolute devotion to fair play? It’s not reassuring that his senior campaign staff, like his long-time political inner circle, is almost entirely white and male.

“In a long campaign, everyone says unfortunate things. But these and other remarks suggest that when it comes to gender, he just doesn’t feel the burn. The problem is less that Bernie focuses on class and economic inequality than that he doesn’t seem to understand that the economy, like society generally, is structured by gender and race. Equal pay is great, but if women and men are funneled into different kinds of work by race and gender, with men’s jobs valued more because men are valued more, and if women are hobbled economically by doing most of the domestic labor and having to contend with prejudice against working mothers to boot, equal pay alone doesn’t solve the problem.

“It would have been great if Bernie had given a major speech about his plans to make women’s lives better—safer, fairer, less dominated by men. Instead, he gives every sign of believing that his basic program—a $15 minimum wage, free public college, breaking up the big banks, single-payer health insurance—is quite enough. Those are all great and important goals—in fact, the $15 minimum wage will benefit more women than men. But they do not speak directly to the rage and fed-upness that so many women, in every class, justly feel. Bernie showed a similar blindness to the specific harms of racism, but, thanks largely to Black Lives Matter, has moved a little further toward integrating race into his analysis.

“At 74, you are who you are. Bernie is a traditional class-based leftist for whom feminism is a distraction. Abortion, as he told Rolling Stone, is a “social issue.” Women’s mental and physical health, their economic survival, their ability to determine the shape of their own lives as men do, is a social issue? The clear implication is that reproductive rights (like guns and LGBT rights, which he mentions in the same breath) are secondary considerations, impediments to winning broad support for his populist economic proposals. I can go to the comment sections of AlterNet—or The Nation—and get that view any day from the bros, but I really thought we’d be further along with a white man who wants to lead a movement in a party that is majority female and over a third people of color. (And that’s just registered members—in 2012, 46 percent of people who voted Democratic were people of color.)

“After Indiana, the GOP looks more likely than ever to nominate a racist, xenophobic misogynist of staggering crudeness and mendacity. If elected, Trump would consult with the conservative Heritage Foundation on Supreme Court nominations. We could well lose what remains of a century of progress for women, workers, LGBT people, and people of color, including the right to vote itself.

“Trump understands very well that racism and sexism are crucial components of the nationalistic insurgence he wants to lead; he appeals openly to some of the darkest impulses in our political id. It is more than disturbing that Bernie pays so little attention to these dangers. He’s changed the debate within the Democratic Party by showing that millions of voters want more than incremental, technocratic tinkering with growing inequality. For that, I’m grateful. But when it comes to dealing with the Republicans in November, I don’t think Bernie gets the awful reality we’re facing. Hillary does.”

Thanks, Ms. Pollitt. You say what I feel but so much better than I ever could.

October 31, 2015

October GOP Debate Introduces Halloween

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:00 PM
Tags: ,

tube nosed batOn Halloween, I’m sitting warm and dry inside while the rain and wind sweeps across the central Oregon Coast. Tonight television will finish the weeks of badly-done films meant to scare people. Not nearly as good as these wonderful creepy creatures such as this tube-nosed bat. And certainly not as scary as the scary masked creatures behind the podium at the GOP debates last Wednesday. Not satisfied with spending four hours in two different debates manipulating those watching through lies and evasions, several candidates have decided to make their mark by changing the entire debate process as the put-upon candidates try to rig future performances by using radical extremists to give them a pass on all their wacky, destructive ideas.

Those who watched the debates probably noticed all the missing economic topics—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, effects of the Great Recession, China’s economic slowdown, the country’s physical infrastructure, etc. Asked about their position on the recently passed budget bill, candidates chose to have temper tantrums to avoid answering questions.

The lying started at the little kids’ table (the first debate) with Bobby Jindal claiming that the Democrats “forced Obamacare and socialism down our throats.” The Affordable Care Act comes from Mitt Romney’s plan proposed by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation—and uses private insurance companies. People in the United States are far happier with the socialist Medicare plan. Jindal also repeated the myth that the U.S. has the world’s highest corporate tax rate. In theory, it is only the third highest, and in practice, corporate taxes in the U.S. are among the lowest of developed countries.

Lindsey Graham said that Boeing was in South Carolina because of the state’s taxes. That might be partly true because the state gave hundreds of millions of dollars of gifts that most citizens and firms never receive. Also the falsely-named “right-to-work” laws in South Carolina give Boeing  the opportunity  to pay slave wages to its employees. Graham also maintained that Russians wouldn’t be in Ukraine if Ronald Reagan were president. They were in Ukraine all during Reagan’s two terms.

None of the candidates in the first debate worried about a possible merger between Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors that would control 73 percent of the U.S. market. Rick Santorum said he drinks a lot of Coors beer and there wouldn’t be a problem because he sees a lot of breweries in his travels. Graham said that he’s the “best bet” for good beer policy because “my dad owned a bar.” He uses that experience a great deal on any issue in his campaign.

Candidates touted several ways to improve life in the United States. Mike Huckabee would end disease, Ted Cruz would abolish the Federal Reserve and return the county to the gold standard, and Carly Fiorina would reduce the 70,000 pages of tax code to just three pages.

Because the debate’s focus was the economy, candidates talked a great deal about tax rates—in very general terms. Both Donald Trump and Ben Carson want all taxes to be at 15 percent, and Rand Paul offers a zero option for payroll taxes. John Kasich explained how the other candidates’ plan would leave the country “trillions and trillions of dollars in debt,” but his opponents couldn’t come out of their alternative reality to answer. They just got upset that their plans would be questioned. Here is the exchange between Becky Quick and Carson regarding questions which about Carson’s vague plan that candidates found “unfair.” Earlier Carson claimed that he would not ever raise the debt ceiling if he were elected president and showed he didn’t understand the difference between the process that agrees to pay debts and the budget, which incurs future obligation.

Candidates complained about “gotcha” questions, but their responses, either lies or evasions, were to substantive questions. For example, Becky Quick asked:

“Senator Rubio, you yourself have said that you’ve had issues. You have a lack of bookkeeping skills. You accidentally intermingled campaign money with your personal money. You faced foreclosure on a second home that you bought. And just last year you liquidated a sixty-eight-thousand-dollar retirement fund. That’s something that cost you thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties. In terms of all of that, it raises the question whether you have the maturity and wisdom to lead this seventeen-trillion-dollar economy. What do you say?”

Rubio dodged the question and said, “You just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents. I’m not gonna waste sixty seconds detailing them all.” Then he wasted his 60 seconds by repeating the story about his immigrant parents. Politifact, more kindly to conservatives, pointed out that Rubio had paid his wife and relatives thousands of dollars, double-billed expenses, lost thousands of dollars in fees and penalties by liquidating a retirement fund, “forgot” about a home equity loan, and charged personal items such as grocery bills and car repair to the Republican party. Rubio may have “won” the debate, but only because he appeared sincere and a little wounded while he lies about facing foreclosure on a second house he co-owned with another scandal-plagued politician.

ben carsonAnother question came from moderator Carl Quintanilla about Carson’s connection with “a company called Mannatech, a maker of nutritional supplements, with which you had a 10-year relationship. They offered claims that they could cure autism, cancer, they paid $7 million to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas, and yet your involvement continued. Why?” Even conservative National Review described Carson’s denial of involvement as “bald-faced lies.” Videos show Carson talking about how Mannatech’s product helped him fight cancer, even after the cash settlement. His belief in the curative powers of larch-tree bark and aloe vera extract for his prostate cancer gives concern about the doctor’s knowledge of medicine. Carson declared Quintanilla’s question “very unfair.”

Quintanilla’s question about the budget was the one that set Cruz over the edge:

“Congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House are about to strike a compromise that would raise the debt limit, prevent a government shutdown and calm financial markets that fear another Washington-created crisis is on the way. Does your opposition to it show that you’re not the kind of problem solver American voters want?”

As a master debater, Cruz ignored the question by claiming that the media was focused on style and not substance. He then complained about the “easy” questions addressed at the Democratic debate. By the way, the first question of the Democratic debate, for Hillary Clinton, was “Will you say anything to get elected?”

Fiorina switched her former lying about Planned Parenthood to the claim that “92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama’s first term belonged to women.” The Washington Post factchecker reported that this statement came from falsehoods of the Mitt Romney campaign. Fiorina said that the Washington Post has no credibility and that the poverty rate among women is the highest ever recorded. Asked for supporting data, Fiorina blamed the media for asking questions. CNN reported figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“In January 2009, there were 66.5 million American women working in non-farm jobs, compared to January 2013 when there were 66.9 million. That’s an increase of over 400,000 working females in Obama’s first term.”

fiorina cruzBoth Fiorina and Cruz used the figure of 3 million women falling into poverty during Barack Obama’s presidency.  According to the Census Bureau, 1.85 million women fell into poverty between 2009 and 2014 1.85 million women fell into poverty. During the same time period, 1.23 million men fell into poverty. The sharply reduced benefits from welfare contribute to part of that fall, which followed a decline starting under George W. Bush. Women lost 1.13 million jobs between January of 2008 and 2009. At this time, unemployment rates for men and women are almost identical—4.7 and 4.7 percent.

The debate was about the economy, and facts—not opinions—show that the economy consistently does better with Democratic presidents than with the GOP. Marketwatch proved that by examining the past seven decades of economic statistics, going back to World War II. Economic growth, adjusted for inflation, averaged 2.54 percent per year under GOP presidents, compared to the 4.35 percent per year under Democratic ones. Better job creation and stock market performance coincide more with Democratic presidents.

The better economy holds true for the current administration despite the growing inequality. In the past five years, the U.S. unemployment rate has been cut in half, and about twelve million new jobs have been created. GDP has grown at a steady, if unspectacular, rate for more than six years. House prices and stock prices rebounded strongly from the Great Recession.

The GOP candidates suffered from their own inadequacies during the debate and solved their problems by claiming that all mainstream media, primarily conservative at this time, was far too liberal to be “fair.” The worst part is that they appear to be controlling the journalistic process. In the last debate, they successfully promoted their lies. Future debates may be total propaganda from the far right. The losers of last week’s debate are 90 percent of the people in the United States if the GOP presidential candidates get their way.

Happy Halloween!

July 15, 2015

Next Page »

AGR Daily 60 Second News Bites

Transformational News In 60 Seconds; 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: