Nel's New Day

August 6, 2018

Feds on the Losing Side in Court

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is desperately trying to put himself above all laws, even appointing a nominee for the Supreme Court who believes a Republican president doesn’t have to go to court, but some of the recent lawsuits go against DDT’s wishes.

A huge win is a federal judge’s ruling that a lawsuit can move forward to determine whether DDT has broken the law against officials accepting emoluments from domestic and foreign governments. AGs from Maryland and Washington, D.C. maintain that DDT’s profit from his businesses such as his hotel and restaurant violates the constitutional clause that prevents any business transactions giving DDT a “profit, gain or advantage.” The judge agreed.

According to law professor John Mikhail, dictionaries published from 1604 to 1806 use a “broad definition” for emoluments, including “profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or benefit.” Mikhail added, “Over 92 percent of these dictionaries define ’emolument’ . . . with no reference to ‘office’ or ’employment.’” Thus the emoluments clause stops any benefit or profit to a president from any government whether in his capacity as president or in any other role, such as the owner of a hotel like the Trump International Hotel in Washington. DDT wants the emoluments clause to narrowly refer to compensation for official services, making it a bribery clause.

DDT desperately wants to stop the case because the legal discovery in the lawsuit allows extensive knowledge of his business and financial records, possibly his tax returns which he has kept secret.

A federal judge ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program must be fully restored. The judge wrote that DDT’s administration had again failed to justify closing down the program but delayed his ruling for 20 days for an appeal. The opinion stated that DDT’s decision “was arbitrary and capricious” with legal judgment that was “inadequately explained.” His full ruling shows more of his irritation with the government’s arguments. The judge appointed by George W. Bush is the third federal judge to reject DDT’s excuse for closing the program.

The 9th Circuit Court gave DDT a tiny win when it ruled that a judge can’t overrule DDT’s withholding federal funding for sanctuary regions for the entire nation and sent the case back to the lower court. The circuit court did declare that the order is unconstitutional for its nine states because it exceeded DDT’s authority because Congress is in charge of spending. In his order, DDT attempted to require local law enforcement to carry out federal responsibilities.

A federal judge invalidated the Federal Election Commission regulation permitting donors to “dark-money” groups, including 501(c)4 non-profits, to remain anonymous. The ruling may lead to requirements forcing nonprofits to disclose people who donate $200 or more toward influencing federal elections. The suit began when Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS didn’t disclose sources for the $6 million used to defeat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in 2012. The FEC has 45 days to issue interim regulations or appeal, but an appeal would require a unanimous vote from commissions—probably impossible.

In another donor issue, Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock is suing the IRS because of its new policy that politically active nonprofit groups don’t need to tell the IRS or other government entities about their major donors. Bullock maintains that the new guideline undermines nonprofit regulations and policing of illegal spending in political campaigns. According to the lawsuit, the government failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act, the same law used for other suits regarding DDT’s executive orders. It evades the public comment mandate and rewrites policy by calling it a “revenue procedure.”

A judge refused a request from Michael Cohen’s lawyer to put a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to stop him from making public comments about Cohen. Avenatti has said that honoring that request could mean a judge might put a gag order on DDT. In connection with his lawsuit about DDT’s allegedly paying Stormy Daniels “hush money” before the 2016 presidential election, Avenatti said that he now represents three more women with the same claim.

A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against DDT’s question about citizenship in the 2020 census can go forward because of evidence that the decision was driven by discrimination. He allowed DDT’s negative tweets and statements about immigrants, including the one about “shithole” countries. Plaintiffs from 28 states and a coalition of immigration rights groups allege that the question is designed to drive down census responses in immigrant communities.

A federal judge blocked Defense Distributed from releasing 3D printed gun plans online, and the case goes back to court on August 10. The 3D guns have no background checks or serial numbers and are illegal in the U.S. because they evade metal detection.

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that new California gun safety laws are constitutional. One requires new models of semi-automatic handguns to have identifying information stamped on bullet casings. Another is a requirement to prevent accidental discharges of handguns, and a third bans concealed carry on school grounds.

An Iowa judge issued a temporary injunction on the state’s new voting law and returns the absentee early voting period to 40 days from the new law’s 29 days. The injunction also blocks some ID requirements on absentee ballots. Secretary of State Paul Pate, who is up for re-election, plans to immediately appeal the decision on legislation that he promoted.

A federal judge ruled that Florida’s college campuses can be used for early voting sites because the state’s ban is unconstitutional.

The 7th Circuit Court has ruled that a transgender woman denied hormone therapy while in custody may pursue her lawsuit, overturning a lower court decision that dismissed her case. Lisa Mitchell wasn’t assessed by Wisconsin’s Department of Corrections for over a year; clinicians then recommended the hormone therapy. Without any policy justification, she was still denied treatment because she was due to be released within a month, and parole officers, after her release, stopped her from any hormone therapy and forced her to dress and present like a man.

Four cities—Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Baltimore—filed a lawsuit against DDT and his cabinet for “waging a relentless campaign to sabotage and, ultimately, to nullify” the Affordable Care Act. The tipping point for the suit was DHHS’ decision to keep substandard health insurance plans for up to three years instead of three months. DDT earlier expanded association health plans not required to cover basic health benefits, eliminated the individual mandate, vastly reduced funds to advertise the ACA, and refused to defend the ACA in court, arguing that pre-existing conditions protection are unconstitutional. Part of the lawsuit’s justification are DDT’s claims that he will get “rid of Obamacare” by destroying it. Without the ACA, cities are forced to pay more for uninsured people. The “take care” clause of the ACA requires the president to ensure that the ACA is faithfully executed.

Last year, 18 states filed a lawsuit opposing DDT’s attempt to block federal cost-sharing subsidies to make the ACA affordable for low- and middle-income people. The case was dismissed, but 12 states filed a lawsuit last week against DDT’s expansion of association health plans. Yale University law professor Abbe Gluck said:

“No scholar or court has ever said the president can use his discretion to implement a statute to purposely destroy it. If there’s ever going to be a violation of the ‘take care’ clause, this is it.”

Nineteen attorneys general have joined California AG Xavier Becerra opposing DDT’s plans to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements for cars and trucks through 2026, refuting the need to improve public health, combat climate change, and save consumers money. DDT will also try to revoke California’s legal waiver to set its own tailpipe restrictions granted under the 1970 Clean Air Act and restrict the dozen states from following California’s lead. His own administration refutes DDT’s “fake” information: an analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety and the EPA estimates a savings of $500 billion “societal costs,” thousands of fewer highway fatalities, and $2,340 lower cost on each new car. Officials at an internal EPA presentation warned that DDT’s proposal contained “a wide range of errors, use of outdated data, and unsupported assumptions.” Enthusiasm for DDT’s proposal, meant to bring the Koch brothers back onto his team, came only from the oil and gas industry.

Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who received an extremely light sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2016, is back in court asking for his conviction overturned. A lawyer claim to a panel of three judges that Turner only wanted “outercourse” and cannot be convicted of rape because it was a “version of safe sex” with no “penile contact.” Justice Franklin D. Elia said, “I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about.” Witness reported that the victim’s dress was pulled up over her waist and she was not moving. At the time, Turner admitted to digitally penetrating her.

On the same day that Washington State AG Bob Ferguson joined other AGs to block posting 3D gun blueprint on the computer, he and three other AGs warned DDT against defunding Planned Parenthood. Ferguson’s 10-0 record of wins with only three that can be appealed. He called DDT’s administration “sloppy in how they do their work” and that it typically breaks federal laws. State AGs have worked together to file about 56 multistate lawsuits against DDT, almost as many as the 60 filed against President Obama in all eight years.

DDT’s rush to overturn every move by President Obama has been delayed not only by lack of quality but also by his bombastic public comments.  His incompetence may save the nation.

June 23, 2018

DDT: Week 74 – War instead of Nobel Prize

The one thing that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wanted more than to destroy everything that President Obama had accomplished was to get the Nobel Peace Prize because President Obama did. That chance may be gone after he decided to tear children from their parents. Following global outrage, Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, declared that DDT is “no longer the moral leader of his country or the world.” (I’m not sure when he was.)  The influential Jagland is one of five members on the committee selecting the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. DDT’s withdrawal from the UN Civil Rights Council was also not helpful to”peace.”

That might be why DDT released a warning about North Korea that could lead up to declaring war on NK. On his return from fawning all over Kim Jong-Un, DDT tweeted that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” Yesterday he signed a declaration continuing a state of emergency with North Korea:

“The existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the Government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. Therefore… I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to North Korea declared in Executive Order 13466.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis said that he knows nothing about any North Korean actions to dismantle its nuclear weapons, doesn’t expect to hear anything, and has no information about any future meetings. Yet the Pentagon has stopped planning the August military training exercises. Meanwhile, Kim Jong-Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to tell him that they are friends.

DDT’s threats of tariffs moving a world trade “skirmish” toward “war” includes an addition of tariffs on more solar products in the 25-percent category after adding ten percent to another $200 billion worth of goods. China called his threats “blackmail” and counter threatened tariffs on most imports, including smartphones, computers, toys, television, and household goods. Soybean futures for July delivery dropped over 7 percent to $8.415 a bushel, the lowest level since March 2009. A ten-percent tariff by China could make another 18 percent decrease; a 40-percent tariff could cause a fall of 40 percent. Over half of the U.S. soybeans are sold to China, the world’s largest consumer of the product.

China’s retaliatory tariffs could cost Iowa farmers $624 million, and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said that DDT’s trade policies are causing “market price declines” in “corn, wheat, beef, and pork.” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said his state is “hit harder than any other state by the Canadian retaliatory tariffs,” and Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA) warned that Kraft-Heinz may move its ketchup production to Canada. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) worries about Coca-Cola’s increase in aluminum can costs, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stated that his state’s steel fabricator has lost its contracts. DDT said that these people will deal with the “pain” because “they understand that they’re doing this for the country.” Many of the people with “pain” voted for DDT because he said he was a competent.

DDT tweeted that he would impose a 20-percent tariff on cars from Europe in response to its tariffs on goods worth $3.2 billion and the existing 10-percent tariff on European car imports from the U.S. Cars from Europe already have a 2.5-percent tariff coming into the U.S., and 25 percent on light-truck and van imports. According to the U.S. Constitution, Congress controls tariffs so DDT must use only the tactic of “national security” to declare them. His recent threats are ignoring that legal issue. People will pay far more from DDT’s tariffs and rising oil prices will cost consumers than the pittance that most of them receive from his tax cuts. DDT declares tariffs, exempts some countries, and then re-imposes them and others, all according to whim. Nomi Prins wrote, “If trust were a coveted commodity [in] the present White House, it would now be trading at zero.”

https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/18/17477170/zte-ban-senate-vote-reinstate   The Senate voted 85-10 to reinstate a ban on ZTE that prevents the Chinese telecom company from buying U.S. components and using U.S. software, citing ZTE as a national security risk, after DDT lifted the ban to “save jobs in China.” The new ban is an amendment to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass piece of legislation that has passed the House, requiring reconciliation between the two chambers.

The executive order indefinitely imprisoning immigrant families wasn’t the only one that DDT signed this past week. He also repealed protections for oceans and Great Lakes to give priority to “ocean industry … particularly oil and natural gas drilling.” This order follows other destructive ones such as permitting coal mines to dump waste into streams and rivers, removing funding to protect the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, and boosting fossil fuels with taxpayer money.

The Senate voted 48-50 against DDT’s demand to “claw back” about $15 billion in spending that Congress approved earlier this year. GOP Sens. Richard Burr (NC) and Susan Collins (ME) joined 48 Democrats/Independents to sink the bill. White House Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney expressed disappointment that they couldn’t “recapture unnecessary funds” such as ones allotted for federal highway funding and $7 billion in health insurance for children in poverty.

To avoid the problem of violating the emolument clause of the U.S. Constitution, DDT promised that his company will donate all profits from foreign governments to the government. Now he won’t bother figuring out profits because it’s is too much trouble. Legally, DDT must submit a request to Congress to avoid his responsibilities, but I’m not holding my breath until he carries through. DDT’s lawyers are using the same argument against his not carrying through with his promise—he’s above the law.

DDT wants to merge the departments of Education and Labor into one agency to reduce education to vocational training. The plan also shrinks the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), responsible for vetting employees, retirement claims, benefits, and federal workforce policy, an agency that doesn’t seem to be doing any vetting. Other plans to combine assistance for the poor from several different agencies such as housing, food, and energy appear to provide less support for those in poverty.

At the same time, DDT wants to create a sixth military branch by adding the Space Force. None of these ideas can happen without congressional approval. [VP Mike Pence looks on as DDT signs the Space Policy Directive; Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), watches from the background.)

Doing away with the Department of Education might not be a problem because Secretary Betsy DeVos does more damage than good. Her push to change all schools in the United States to private charters with no oversight through the voucher program is designed to make all “public” schools religious, and she dropped 1,200 probes into public school policies of physical abuse, primarily against black students, as discipline for ditching classes, tardiness, dress code violations, and other similar misbehavior. These complaints as well as those of sexual violence in schools and colleges have been closed with no corrective action. The increased leniency of the department’s Office for Civil Rights regards less investigation into discrimination complaints about students with limited English, education needs for disabled students, and racial harassment. DeVos maintains that her agency has consistent legal standards but gave different regions the latitude to drop cases. The NAACP is suing the education department, accusing it of unlawfully dismissing complaints without a full investigation.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and seven members of her family were asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington (VA) after her support in separating migrant children and parents. When she reported what had happened on her official Twitter, Walter Schaub, former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, pointed out that her use of her “official account for this is a clear violation of 5 CFR 2635.702(a).” The owner explains her reasoning for refusing service to Sanders and describes the occurrence.

Huckabee Sanders was more civil than her religious father, Mike Huckabee, who tweeted a photograph of MS-13 gang members with the message that they are part of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) campaign committee.

The number of DDT’s lies is growing. In the first four days of the last week, he tweeted false information seven times about immigration and six times on the IG report about the FBI handling Hillary Clinton’s email server. The baker’s dozen doesn’t include his falsehoods on other issues in tweets and public remarks that reinforce his alternate reality about the G-7 summit, the North Korea situation, crime in Germany, and Democrats in general. Repeated lies become believable when people want these lies to be their personal truth. They even ignore the lies about Mexico paying the wall and his inability to stop separation of children and parents that his Wednesday executive order may have halted. Steve Bannon says that DDT doesn’t lie although an interviewer pointed out that DDT admitted he lied about the Trump Tower meeting. In response, Bannon said that he did not know whether Trump’s comments qualified as a lie.

DDT’s fear of the Russian investigation is accelerating. He tweeted “witch hunt” 72 times in the past year—20 uses in May after the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s offices and home with another 22 in the first three weeks of June. This morning, DDT tweeted that poll numbers have “plummeted” about the “witch hunt,” but Fox polls show that the percentage has increased ten percent to 44 percent who believe that DDT’s campaign colluded with the Russians from a year ago. Sixty percent think he should agree to be interviewed by Mueller. And that’s Fox!

June 18, 2018

Courts Feature DDT’s Problems

Today’s post is about recent legal decisions and lawsuit filings, but I’ll begin with the separation of children from their families at the Mexico border.

  • A letter to the editor complained about Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for not doing his job because he tried to visit to incarceration facilities for these children. This is part of his job.
  • NPR, which now gets large donations from far-right contributors such as the Koch brothers, allowed statements that children are better off being separated from their parents with no one explaining the physical and emotional damage of the separations.
  • Yesterday DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Today she backed down at a White House briefing but supported the lies of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by blaming Democrats and adding other lies of her own.

People watching nothing but conservative media such as Fox are spared horrific tapes of the cries of abducted children separated from their parents. A six-year-old girl kept repeating her aunt’s telephone number and pleading for someone to call her. When the call was finally made, the aunt in El Salvador could do nothing because she and her daughter cannot get asylum in the U.S. because the DOJ no longer accepts people fleeing from gangs and domestic violence. The six-year-old’s mother will probably be deported without her daughter.

As bad as things are for DDT, the courts are pursuing him. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and the Donald J. Trump foundation because DDT’s charity allegedly engaged in “illegal conduct” by raising over $2.8 million to influence the presidential election in DDT’s campaign. The suit calls for dissolving the foundation, repaying the $2.8 million along with other penalties, a 10-year ban on DDT serving as director of a New York nonprofit, and a one-year ban on his serving on a nonprofit board for each of his children. Prison could also be a possibility. Underwood also sent referral letters to the IRS and FEC, listing potential law violations for more investigation and legal action.

Summer Zervos’ defamation civil suit for DDT accusation that his sexual assault victims are liars can continue, according to New York’s Supreme Court. Zervos’ lawyer said that they look forward to the “discovery process,” which could reveal information that DDT is hiding.

Rudy Giuliani tried to defame Stormy Daniels because of her profession as an adult film star, saying that she cannot be trusted. In return, Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted his 500,000+ followers in a search for Giuliani’s porn-watching habits.

An Emoluments Clause lawsuit against DDT for taking gifts from state and foreign governments, a case with no direct precedent, should be decided by the end of July. DDT’s legal team claims that DDT cannot be sued, that his proceeds are not emoluments, and that he has donated his profits to the Treasury. DDT has no evidence for his statement that he made only $151,470. In another emoluments case, 200 congressional Democrats state that DDT has to ask Congress for the right to receive emoluments. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington failed its first round in an emoluments claim for having no standing, but the group is appealing. Any case that manages a requirement of discovery is victorious because DDT has thus far hidden his financial records.

A federal judge in Seattle refused to stay an earlier injunction halting DDT’s transgender military ban while the government is appealing because the government has no new arguments. The judge is one of four issuing preliminary injunctions against Trump’s transgender military ban.

The day after the official end of net neutrality in the United States, an action allowing more profit-making to internet servers, a George W. Bush-appointed judge approved the $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner with no conditions. The owners of DirecTV, U-verse, AT&T mobile and broadband, Cricket wireless, etc. will now possess HBO, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers Studios, a stake in Hulu, etc. The judge ruled that the merger did not violate antitrust laws because of the consumer welfare standard that examines only consumer costs. Monopolies are now legal; for example, ultra-conservative Sinclair Publishing can move into almost all the local markets across the nation. Comcast entered a bidding war with Disney for Fox TV and movie assets. T-Mobile, which partners with Netflix, has a deal to buy Sprint. Leon’s ruling also leaves Aetna open to join with CVS, and other health corporations can merge.

In another permit for a huge merger earlier this year, the German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer can buy agricultural giant Monsanto, creating the world’s biggest pesticides and seeds monopoly.  After the $66 billion purchase, just three megacorporations–Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, and Syngenta-ChemChina–will control 61 percent of global seeds and pesticides production, worrying farmers about prices with no competition. Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have trapped farmers into dependence and reliance on chemicals.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not decide on two gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. The non-decision gave Wisconsin to the Republicans and Maryland to Democrats. For Wisconsin, the high court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that challenges must come from each district by voters with standing because the court’s role is only for “individual rights.” The case was sent back to a lower court to determine whether plaintiffs existed in all districts. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch wanted to end the Wisconsin case. An unsigned opinion stated that the Maryland case is at a preliminary stage but that the lower court was not wrong in refusing to order the congressional maps redrawn. The next Supreme Court decision about gerrymandering could come from North Carolina where the GOP controls 10 of 13 congressional districts.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly struck down Minnesota’s ban on political apparel in polling places with the 7-2 ruling that the law was too broad. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that a state may prohibit some apparel, but it must have a “reasonable” line. An example is the California law that defines political information.

Last week, a 4-4 split on the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself left in place a lower court decision supporting the salmon rights of 21 Northwest Native American tribes who sued Washington state for the replacement of almost 1,000 culverts. The decision, that the state cannot impede the salmon that tribes have a right to fish, could affect development, construction, and farming practices in the Northwest by engaging tribes in decision-making.  Tribes may also look at other treaty rights outside fishing and hunting, such as the preservation of national parks and opposition to pipelines.

Healthcare specialist Mark Horton’s lawsuit against St. Louis-based Midwest Geriatric Management, now pending in the 8th Circuit Court, comes from the company’s pulling his job offer after it discovered he is gay. Major companies such as Microsoft and Airbnb joined EEOC to support Horton’s case; conservative states oppose it. The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Civil Right Act protects LGBTQ workers.

A federal judge in Missouri this week upheld a state law restricting access to medication to induce abortions as the case awaits trial.

A California appeals court reinstated the state’s right-to-die law until a lawsuit goes to court. A lower court had blocked the law on the grounds that the legislature could not pass the law during a special session limited to other issues. Oregon was the first to pass a death-with-dignity law in 1997 before it was joined by Washington, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, and Washington D.C.

Kentucky is suing Walgreens for allegedly aggravating the opioid crisis as both distributor and dispenser in filling huge quantities of prescription narcotic pain medication. This is the sixth opioid-related lawsuit filed by Kentucky. Other states are doing the same—Florida, Delaware, and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Massachusetts is also suing Purdue Pharma and 16 of the OxyContin maker’s executives for misleading doctors and patients about the risks of opioids. Alabama filed a suit against the company four months ago.

A federal judge blocked Indiana from immediately purging registered voters with personal records elsewhere on the faulty Crosschecks computer program.

A question about citizenship abruptly added to the 2020 census with no vetting has brought lawsuits from over two dozen states and cities in opposition. The subsequent release of 1,320 internal memos, emails, and other documents sheds light on this decision. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the cost of the last-minute addition would be insignificant, but John Abowd, the Census Bureau’s chief scientist, conservatively estimates the expense at $27.5 million. The question came from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known for his work to disenfranchise progressive voter. He objected to undocumented immigrants being used to determine the number of congressional seats, despite the fact that this constitutional practice has been used since the first census in 1790.

Earlier this year, Kobach was fined $1,000 for misleading the court about documents in a folder he took to a meeting with DDT soon after the presidential election. Kobach said he paid the fee “out of his own pocket,” but he used a state credit card issued to Craig McCullah, deputy assistant secretary of state under Kobach, for the payment. McCullah, in Ukraine deployed with the Oklahoma Army National Guard when the payment was made, was not told about it. Kobach was also found to have disobeyed orders to notify thousands of Kansans that they were legally registered to vote in 2016. He is running for governor of Kansas.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry was suspended from the bench for 32 counts of lying and using his public office for personal gain. Those seem to be actions reserved for the president of the United States.

May 19, 2018

DDT: Week 69 – Killings, ‘Pay to Play’

Killings on two sides of the world marked the past week. One was the 16th school shooting in the United States in the first four and a half months of the year that killed ten people, eight of them students, and wounded another 14 in the small town of Santa Fe (TX) with a population under 13,000. The 17-year-old shooter admitted that he deliberately aimed at people he wanted to kill; the first girl he killed had turned down his persistent advances over four months. The shooter used guns that belonged to his father. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claimed that there were no “red flags,” but the teenager’s Facebook page and computer journals identify his plans.

Guns don’t kill people; doors do. This claim by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick follows the latest NRA excuse for the growing number of mass shootings. He recommends just one entrance for all 1,400 people in a school like the one in Santa Fe (TX). Former government ethics director Walter Shaub examined the state requirements for doors and tweeted that “Texas has stricter regulations for doors than it does for guns.”

Last week’s Palestinian bloodbath from the Israelis came at the same time that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) proudly opened his embassy in Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Nakba (Catastrophe) when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled by the 1948 creation of Israel. That country’s military claimed that they attacked members of Hamas; Palestinians said that the “terrible massacre” was against unarmed demonstrators. DDT called the time “a great day for Israel” that will create peace between Palestine and Israel, something he has always said would be “easy.” He invited fundamentalist Christian pastors to open the embassy are anti-Semitic. Robert Jeffress has preached that everyone except Christians are going to hell and that Jews will be saved at the second coming of Christ because they will accept Him. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who once led a group illegally funding West Bank settlements, was supposed to create this “easy” peace but blamed the Palestinians for their deaths.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayip Erdogan, led the diplomatic protests from several Arab and Middle East countries against DDT’s action, calling the U.S. “part of the problem, not the solution.” The UK prime minister, Theresa May, was more restrained in her criticism, but Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, called the embassy move from Tel-Aviv a violation of International law and UN Security Council resolutions.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, left an emergency Security Council meeting discussing the killings in Gaza when the Palestinian envoy began to speak. Earlier she had praised the “restraint” by Israel when they killed at least 62 people and wounded another 3,100 Palestinian protesters on the day when the embassy opened on land recognized by many world leaders as the capital of a future Palestinian state. A vote of 29-2 with 14 abstentions by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Israel’s massacre as war crimes followed a speech by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN human rights chief, condemning the “horrific” attacks on peaceful demonstrators and calling for “the occupation” to end. About the Palestinians, Zeid said:

“All of the 1.9 million people who live in Gaza have been penned in behind fences and have suffered progressively more restrictions and greater poverty. After 11 years of blockade by Israel they have little hope of employment, and their infrastructure is crumbling, with an electricity crisis, inadequate health services and a decaying sewage system that constitutes a threat to health.”

DDT claimed Jerusalem the capital of Israel in opposition to State of Palestine claims that the embassy is on its capital. A 1949 international treaty recognizes half the city, including the embassy area, under Jordanian control. DDT’s decision to move the embassy led to a UN revolution, approved 128-9, requesting him to withdraw his declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Those nine members supporting DDT are the U.S., Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Togo. Another 35 nations abstained, and 21 countries were not present for the vote. DDT said that he made the decision for “peace” in the region.

In his attempts for a Nobel Peace Prize, DDT has decided to “Make China Great Again,” tweeting that “Too many jobs in China lost.” His new-found concern for jobs in China happened at the same time that the Chinese government loaned DDT $500 million for his billion-dollar resort project in Indonesia.

Just 72 hours after the loan deal was made, DDT ordered a bailout for the Chinese-government-owned cellphone maker ZTE. The U.S. military and intelligence community has declared the phones a security risk, and they are banned on military bases out of concern they can track service members. Last year, the company was fined $1.2 billion for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The U.S. government had banned the company from buying U.S. components for seven years because ZTE officials lied about their actions. Stocks may go up for U.S. optical component companies because they can resume exporting their product to China. U.S. intelligence officials believe that China may use ZTE products for foreign espionage and cyber attacks.

DDT’s Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah described the deal with China as “give and take,” and it’s the farmers in the U.S. that are forced into the “give” while China can “take.” After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) threatened tariffs on soybeans, China almost tripled its purchases from Russia and canceled U.S. shipments. DDT had promised to protect farmers.

While national security adviser John Bolton is threatening sanctions on European allies if they dare deal with Iran, China has a new freight train connection that saves 20 days in carrying supplies to the capital of Iran over cargo ships and allows greater trade relations between the two countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that they would “maintain normal economic ties and trade.” China can also again create separate funds and banks from the U.S. market that the United States cannot punish. Chinese entities can also act as intermediaries for European countries to keep trading with Iran with no fear of violating U.S. sanctions, for example oil sales from Iran through China or Russia. Iran sells more to China than any other country with a 25 percent increase in exports last year. Chinese exports to Iran increased over 20 percent. Iranian exports to the EU increased by 375 percent from 2015 to 2016.

DDT is bragging that he will shrink the trade deficit with China because it may buy an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods, up from purchases last year of $130 billion. Some sales may be to ZTE. Economists think the plan won’t succeed, however, because the U.S. may just buy more goods from China. At the same time, DDT is not trying to keep China from taking U.S. intellectual property.

DDT’s foreign policy is also bailing out his son-in-law from his financial problems. The U.S. position on the tiny country of Qatar seems to parallel whether the wealthy oil nation will lend money to bail out Jared Kushner’s disastrous deal with a 41-story building at 666 Fifth Avenue Manhattan. Over a year ago, DDT supported Qatar when Kushner thought it would lend his family business money. As soon as Qatar withdrew the offer, DDT supported the eight-country blockade of Qatar despite the 10,000 service members at the base on Qatar. Now, Qatar is considering a loan of hundreds of millions to dollars to the Kushner family to pay off the original loan and renovate the building at the same time that DDT met with Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. Jared Kushner resigned as his company’s chief executive but kept most of his business with it.

Qatar may have a good reason for thinking that DDT will take bribes. Businessman Jeff Kwatinetz turned down an offer from Ahmed al-Ramaihi, head of the Qatar sovereign wealth fund, to exchange a meeting with DDT and his officials for an investment. Kwatinetz said, “Al-Rumaihi laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn’t be naive, that so many Washington politicians take our money, and stated ‘do you think Flynn turned down our money?’” The pattern for these bribes may have started immediately after the 2016 election.

DDT is already conceding to North Korea by agreeing not to fly two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Korean Peninsula because North Korea’s president, Kim Jong-Un, canceled talks with South Korea. National security adviser John Bolton may be blocking the U.S./North Korea summit by repeated claims that the U.S. will use the “Libya model” in its settlement with North Korea and getting DDT to back out of the Iranian deal. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi ended up dismembered, and DDT’s position on Iran proves that no agreement would be lasting.

The GOP isn’t even worried about a war with North Korea. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that “all the damage … would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security.” The beginning of this war 65 years ago killed 3.5 million people (36,516 of them from the U.S.) and 2.5 million civilians while costing almost $700 billion plus hundreds of billions of dollars more to put military on the border because North and South Korea for 65 years. The U.S. has spent more to cover other Pacific Rim nations. That was before North Korea had nuclear weapons which might reach the U.S.

As a real estate developer, DDT was always willing to walk away from negotiations, the way he promised to negotiate with Kim Jong-Un. His craving for the Nobel Prize may cause him to give up anything to North Korea. His attitude mirrors what he accuses President Obama of doing in Iran.

And then there’s Russia and much more.

 

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