Nel's New Day

April 28, 2017

DDT: Week Fourteen, More Failures

The quarterly GDP report just came out, and the average 0.7 percent increase is bad news for news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who bragged that his leadership would move the gross domestic product skyhigh. Instead the GDP for his first quarter is the worst in three years. Why do people vote for Republicans? In a statement of how DDT is struggling, he said, “I thought it would be easier.” This is DDT’s classic statement as he reflects on his first 100 days. “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going.” Many other people wish he were back in his previous life too after his string of failures.

Alienation of South Korea: After picking a fight with North Korea, DDT attacked South Korea by threatening to terminate the U.S. trade agreement with South Korea because the five-year-old accord was “a horrible deal” that has left America “destroyed.” To make things worse, he told South Korea that they should pay the $1 billion for the U.S. missile-defense system, Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad), to be installed in South Korea as protection against a North Korean attack.

Flynn’s Failure: When Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser for 24 days, started the chant of “Lock her up” about candidate Clinton last summer, he said that he’d be in prison if he did one-tenth of the things that she had done. Maybe he will be incarcerated. The investigation into Flynn has already shown that he likely took money from Russia without notification to the U.S. after the Pentagon warned him against doing it and that his work for Turkey has a Russian connection. Meanwhile, DDT is trying to cover for Flynn’s illegal activities by refusing to release any information about him. Now the Pentagon has joined the investigation into Flynn, and DDT’s AG Jess Sessions has recused himself from the whole problem. Maybe if FBI James Comey had been more worried about real treason and not Hillary Clinton’s emails?

The Wall: Press Secretary Sean Spicer is trying to cover for DDT’s backing off from his main promise by saying that it was a priority and not a demand, but DDT tweeted that the drug problem will never be solved without a wall. Yet 56 percent responses to a poll agree that DDT hasn’t accomplished much, and 47 percent of the blame goes to DDT. The GOP gets 25 percent blame and Democrats only seven percent. At the same time, the majority of people—a number that is growing—oppose building the wall, and an increasing number want money put into infrastructure instead. Texans oppose the wall as much as Mexico on the possibility of making Mexico so instable that it becomes another Venezuela as well as flooding and sewage in the Rio Grande River.

Tax Increases: DDT may have hoped that his shiny new tax plan would distract from his other problems, but it’s going downhill fast. Presenter and Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin knows that it gives cuts to the wealthy but can’t guarantee that “no one in the middle class is gonna pay more.” At least DDT will get a big cut with his own plan. A 65-year study by the Congressional Research Office found no correlation between cutting taxes and economic growth.

Latest Executive Order Overturned: Judge William Orrick, of the federal Northern District for California, has blocked DDT’s threat to cut off funds to sanctuary cities if they refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an executive order by Donald Trump which threatened to cut off funds to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. The injunction retains the right to identify sanctuary cities and withhold certain grants but cannot alter the way federal funds are spent because that power lies within the congressional, not the presidential, branch of government. The Justice Department said that the order applies only to the failure in sharing citizenship information as required by law and three federal grants that require compliance as a pre-condition. Orrick said that this defense is worthless because law already permits it, leaving no purpose for the executive order. He also said that DDT’s rhetoric and surrogate statements, including those from the AG, contradicted the interpretation that the Justice Department tried to place on it. Orrick said:

“The President has called it ‘a weapon’ to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement, and his press secretary has reiterated that the President intends to ensure that ‘counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cites don’t get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order.'”

Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said that the administration stood behind its threats to eliminate law enforcement funding to those cities. The federal government is now trying to decide on a definition of “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Massive Donor Errors for Inauguration: Inauguration Donor Fraud?: Follow the rubles. A crowdsourced data project at HuffPost found massive mistakes in DDT’s final campaign report with the was filled with mistakes—missing addresses, vacant lots used for addresses, anonymous or fake names, etc.—showing that even basic checks on accuracy were made.

Failure of Conservative Press Control: Unhappy with the sometimes factual reporting in the mainstream press, DDT has been wooing the far-right outlets and frequently failing. After they didn’t support his healthcare plan, he called them to the White House last Monday to tell them—gently, for him—to shape up. It wasn’t a success: they’re still complaining about the lack of attention that DDT has given them despite his favoritism. They’re also upset that they were told to leave their phones outside the room and not to report on what was said until 30 minutes into the meeting. The result was bad press from conservatives about DDT’s communications team. 

Empty Rooms: Cite Priebus: The Senate has confirmed 26 of DDT’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts, but he’s nominated only 37 people for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation.

Disappearance of Zombie Healthcare Bill—Again: Once again, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t get the votes for the revised healthcare bill. The ultra-conservatives loved it because it takes insurance from more people, but the more centrist GOP members balked. One embarrassment for the GOP is that the failed bill exempted members of Congress and their staff: they can keep all their benefits. Once this fact came to light, GOP representatives talked about changing their minds about piece of the bill.

No Budget: The House passed a one-week extension on passing the budget to keep the government functioning for another seven days. The reason may be to prevent a shutdown on DDT’s 100th day tomorrow. The GOP House follows the pattern of teenagers who do no school work and then ask for an extension. And the action saves DDT the embarrassment of a government shutdown on his 100th day.

The United States has become so racist—including some law enforcement officials—that Sanya Gragg has published a book on the “talk” with black children: what they should do to stay ALIVE. Momma, Did You Hear The News?, a picture book for small children, gives this directions if they are confronted by the police, even if they’re just innocently walking down the street.

  • A – Always use your manners
  • L – Listen and comply
  • I – In control of your emotions
  • V – Visible hands always
  • E – Explain everything

Something else that white children don’t have to face.

Much more about DDT’s last week, but tomorrow is his 100th day—and lots more for another post.

Meanwhile, cheers for recently retired GOP Judge GOP Judge Doug McCullough, who resigned from the North Carolina Appeals Court a month before his date of mandatory retirement to allow the Democrat governor to replace him. McCullough is disgusted with the legislature’s blatant attempt to strip the new governor of any appointment abilities, going so far as to pass a bill to reduce the court from 15 to 12 so that newly elected Roy Cooper cannot fill any vacancies. An attempt to override Cooper’s veto leaves the governor with a small window of opportunity. Cooper’s new appointment, Judge John Arrowood, is the first openly gay member of the North Carolina court of appeals. McCullough is a man with ethics.

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February 11, 2017

DDT: Week Three – Part 2

trump-signature-photoMost of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) publicity during his first three weeks was vigorously signing Steve Bannon’s executive orders, actions, and directives and then proudly holding up leather-bound documents like a toddler being potty trained. Some of these, such as the recently overturned Muslim ban, had teeth, but many of them are just—publicity. For example, the three on “strengthening” police. They were supposedly “designed to restore safety in America,” to “break the back” of cartels, and “stop as of today” violence against the police. Yet the text reveals that policy steps were missing. Instead they showed DDT’s displeasure with the cartels and order task forces that will actually stop investigations into the spike in killings of black people, many of them by law enforcement officials.

An earlier order about ISIS asked for a plan—not really a news breaking concept. The one on killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership merely fired another shot into the TTP’s decaying carcass. An examination of his 26 “executive actions” disclose most of them to lack substantive value, according to Mark Rozell, the dean of the government school at George Mason University. Yet he presents them as if “he’s doing something very dramatic, very significant.” That’s DDT—a theatrical showman signifying nothing. [DDT’s signature with his inauguration photograph.]

Yet pieces of what he has done are extremely destructive:

Return of Dakota Pipeline: The Army Corps of Engineers will approve the final easement allowing the pipeline to cross underneath Lake Oahe, the primary source of drinking water for the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. DDT said he didn’t get a single phone call opposing his pipeline approvals. Maybe because the White House has removed the availability for calling and people can’t call the White House anymore? And the fact that DDT still has money invested in the company building the pipeline.

Disappearance of Fair Internet Use: After the election, Breitbart.com bragged that net neutrality would be “dead” under Trump. DDT’s appointment for the Federal Communications Commission, former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, is achieving that goal by cutting the federal assistance program for low-income broadband users and refusing to defend existing FCC rules that cap inmate intrastate calling rates. He also stopped an investigation into Verizon and AT&T that offer free data for preferred apps.

USDA Purge of Animal Welfare Information: All inspection reports about monitoring of animal treatment at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities have been removed from the federal website and now accessible only through FOIA requests, requiring years for approval. That means that puppy mills and other animals abuse are back with impunity.

CNN’s Refusal to Interview Kellyanne Conway—and Its Backtracking: Last week, the White House declared a boycott on CNN, and DDT accused the news network of being “fake news” at his speech about Black History Month. The position was briefly reversed: CNN turned down the White House for a number of guests, including Kellyane Conway, to be on CNN’s State of the Union. The network declined. Conway wanted to appear to discuss her MSNBC complaint about the media not covering the fictitious “Bowling Green massacre” caused by refugees. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green (KY), but two Iraqis were arrested for donating to Al Qaeda. The situation was covered in at least 90 major newspaper articles as well as on television news. If the term “massacre” was a slip of the tongue, as Conway declared, she has had other slips about the situation in Bowling Green, including false details for an interview with Cosmopolitan. CNN told a reporter that Conway was turned down because the network has “serious questions about her credibility.” Within two days of its bravery, CNN caved, and Conway was back on the network peddling her lies—like how DDT deserved credit for not lying some of the time.

hitlerWhite Supremacists Rejoicing at White House Direction: Last week we reported on DDT’s removal of white supremacist groups from the government’s attempts to stop “homegrown” terrorism within the United States so that they are no longer targeted. The Daily Stormer, named after a Nazi propaganda publication, wrote:

“Yes, this is real life. Our memes are all real life. Donald Trump is setting us free.”

The publication sees DDT’s action as the same as their own writing and their reward for helping elect him, and their colleague, Steve Bannon, is running the White House. Bannon called himself “the platform for the Alt-Right [aka white nationalism]” when he published Breitbart.com. Just one example of joy from the white supremacists is a post on another neo-Nazi site, Infostormer:

 “We may truly have underestimated President Trump’s covert support of our Cause (at least in some form), but after this proposal, I am fully ready to offer myself in service of this glorious regime.”

Deportations: For the party supposedly supporting “family values,” the saddest piece of the new DDT regime is the massive ICE roundups of parents to separate them from their children. These sweeps, primarily in California which voted against DDT, do not target dangerous criminals. Other deportations were of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos in Arizona which she reported into ICE as she always did after being caught in a workplace raid ten years ago and Francisco Alvarado who was taken from his three children and wife. Garcia de Rayos came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old, and Alvarado fled Honduras because the “Maras” gang begun in the U.S. killed several of his wife’s family members. ICE agents find their prey by following children home from school.

Among those detained are two U.S.-born children with no criminal background and another youth considered a “gang member” simply because of old speeding tickets and tattoos. Lawyers cannot find their clients because ICE refuses to reveal information about whether they have been deported. These people are not the “killers and rapists” who DDT said he would deport.

Super Bowl ads were a highlight of last Sunday. The ads—costing $10 million a minute—were remarkable. During more progressive times, many of these ads bashed women, but DDT’s ascendancy changed that focus. Check this out for a great piece on the television commercials shown last Sunday.

ryan

It’s been only three weeks, and the victorious Republicans are “moving the goal posts” of their dreams. Promises of dumping Obamacare, overhauling the tax code to benefit the rich, and funding a wall to separate Mexico are being stalemated by budget deadlines. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) bravely says that things are better between the GOP Congress and DDT, but conservatives are upset by their slow pace. The House Freedom Caucus, worried that the entire agenda will be halted until a repeal of Obamacare, doesn’t see any urgency for the task. They’re also amazed by the virulent attacks from constituents highly disturbed by the loss of the Affordable Care Act although they maintain that the protests are from big money.

Just the wall that DDT promises will run $21.6 billion, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and take almost four years. That’s $157.31 per person for everyone who paid income taxes last year–even the 63 percent of the people who don’t want the wall. And Mexico won’t be paying for the wall. Raise the tariff as DDT said? People will have to buy 36 billion avocados to pay for a wall. Then consider the problems of terrain, Native American treaties, and problems with eminent domain in Hillary Clinton territory. And maybe the fact that DDT doesn’t have an investment in construction companies for the wall. And that entire issue just one facing the Republicans in 2017.

[Correction: Although Adolf Hitler made a comment similar to the one above, he actually wrote in Mein Kampf that “they will more easily fall victim to a large lie than a small lie … the most bold and brazen lie is sure to stick.” Joseph Goebbels stated, ““If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” He also stated, “The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” ]

February 4, 2017

DDT: Week Two

 

The adults in the White House are gone, replaced by childish, vengeful adolescents coordinated by a white supremacist. It’s like a kid won president of the student council because he ran on overturning all school rules. Here are some actions from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during his second seek of rule.

Much of the media concentration last week was on DDT’s ban on Muslims. It threw much of the nation into chaos, most probably its intent. After over 100,000 visas were overturned and far more innocent people, many of them U.S. residents, were kept from coming into the country, a George W. Bush-appointed judge in Washington state overturned the ban. The State Department, now with oil magnate Rex Tillerson at the helm, decided to reverse DTT’s ban, allowing those whose visas were not physically cancelled to come into the United States. People with those visas will have to go to an embassy or consulate to have them reinstated.

Other of DDT’s well known activities last week were firing Acting Attorney General Sally Yates because she refused to violate the U.S. Constitution, alienating leaders in several allied countries while giving Russia a pass on illegal actions in Ukraine, and putting white supremacist Steve Bannon on the National Security Council while removing the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

These diversionary tactics kept many people from focusing on the other damage that he did last week. One major move was to put evangelicals in charge of the country; details of these actions are to be described tomorrow.

Allowing financial advisers cheat clients: DDT overturned an Obama regulation requiring investors to put their clients’ interests first. Financial advisors can return to getting the biggest commissions, even if the investments are not in the best interests of their clients. Experts say that this particularly damages economic situations for the elderly with limited retirement funds.

Trying to fake support for gender equality: When DDT appointed Gina Haspel as deputy director of the CIA, Kellyanne Conway bragged that this was the first woman in this position. She was wrong: President Obama appointed Avril Haines as the first woman for this post. Haspel also has a bad record of overseeing a “black site” prison in Thailand that used torturing and then ordered videos from the prison destroyed. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) wrote to Trump stating, “Her background makes her unsuitable for the position.”

Avoiding any mention of Jews: On the same day that DDT issued his Muslim ban, he gave out a statement honoring International Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention Jewish people—just all those people who perished. The omission was intentional, and there were no regrets from White House about the lack of “remembrance.” The State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues prepared a statement that mentioned the six million Jewish victims—two-thirds of the European Jewish population—but the White House omitted this part of the statement, possibly at the instigation of white supremacist Steve Bannon who writes DDT’s executive orders.

Killing citizens in Yemen: DDT’s first military raid as president ended badly when leaks about the operation resulted in the killing of a U.S. Navy Seal and an eight-year-old citizen of the U.S. as well as over 23 other civilians, many of them women and children. DDT’s administration bragged about the raid’s success, but the “intelligence” released to promote its “success” is ten years old. Al Qaeda leader Qassim al-Raymi called DDT “the fool of the White House” and reported that two U.S. helicopters were downed and tens of U.S. soldiers injured. Unnamed military officials said that “Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented the plan at a dinner with DDT, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, and Mike Pence who immediately approved it with no advice or vetting from intelligence officers or military commanders. A meeting the next day about the plan was “pro forma and irrelevant” because a decision had been made.

After press secretary, Sean Spicer, described the raid as “a successful operation by all standards,” he decided it was a disaster and tried to put the blame on former President Obama who had been briefed on the proposal and deferred any decision to his successor. Witnesses to the Obama discussions regarding the raid debunked the White House blame game. Colin Kahl, the national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, and Ned Price, a former White House spokesman, said that the botched raid was never approved by former President Obama.

Some members of Congress—even Republicans—want to look into the debacle, and the military has already announced that it would launch its own investigation. The villagers at the location of the raid have said that they were unfairly targeted by the United States, and IS in Yemen is now strengthened, according to an International Crisis Group report,

Ignoring home-grown counter-terrorism: DDT wants a program to exclude opposition to violent white supremacists and other non-Islam extremist groups to completely focus on Muslims. Spicer said that the White House will look at borders to investigate “homegrown” terrorist threats. The decision was announced three days after a white supremacist pro-Trump Canadian killed six people in a Quebec mosque. Reuters reported that the administration “would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.” People in America are seven times more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim attacker as demonstrated by recent mass shootings.

Eliminating federal funding for “sanctuary” cities and states: DDT threatened last week to cut funding from areas that don’t hold undocumented immigrants in detention, but the number of those places is growing—and not just in blue states. This week Birmingham (AL) City Council voted unanimously to be a “welcoming and a sanctuary.” Recent data shows that sanctuary counties have lower crime rates, poverty rates, and unemployment rates than counties that fully cooperate with ICE. Overall, immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, has issued an executive order prohibiting the state from participating in the creation of a Muslim registry and called on the state’s AG to legally oppose DDT’s anti-immigration measures. Her order extends the state’s 30-year-old statute prohibiting law enforcement agencies from treating undocumented Oregonians as criminals to include all state agencies. Washington became the first state to file a lawsuit against DDT’s immigration ban, and four other states—Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Virginia—have joined third-party actions.

Failing to record call with Vladimir Putin: DDT’s hour-long telephone call with Russia’s leader was taped in that country but not in the United States. The Kremlin’s detailed 10-paragraph cited “active joint efforts to stabilize and develop Russia-US cooperation on a constructive, equitable, and mutually beneficial basis” and quoted Putin as being pleased with DDT’s tone. The vague one-paragraph statement from the White House referred to a “congratulatory call from Russian President Vladimir Putin.” It has been suggested that the staff disabled the recording equipment.

Running from protesters: DDT canceled his trip to Wisconsin’s Harley-Davidson factor because of the threat of protesters.

Opening Black History Month in a bizarre speech: DDT’s first statement:

“Well, the election, it came out really well. Next time we’ll triple the number or quadruple it. We want to get it over 51, right? At least 51.”

He continued by rambling about a rumor that he had taken a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. out of his office and complaining about “fake news.” Then he said that Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, “is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I notice.” He segued to the media, calling CNN “fake news” but complimenting the Fox network that “has treated me very nice.” He talked about the importance of good schools and inner-city violence. And then he was done.

Waffles on doing away with regulations: During his campaign DDT promised that he would eliminate two existing regulations for every new one, sort a cool “one in, two out” with no rationale. But this week’s executive order stated “identify,” not “eliminate.” The order doesn’t require that these “two regulations” be repealed for every one created.

Purging the State Department: Last week, it was announced that several top-level officials at the State Department resigned. DDT actually got rid of them, including one who was on his way to Rome for an international meeting on nuclear weapons. He was in charge of signing off on U.S. arms sales and security assistance abroad by negotiating, implementing, and verifying international arms control agreements and international security. No one has replaced him.

A piece of good news? By the end of PDT’s first week, alternative twitter accounts popped up for most federal agencies after PDT’s gag order on sending out information. Here’s a list. Even Oregon’s Crater Lake has an alt-twitter.

More coverage of DDT’s second week is here. Compare the reality with the fantasy from the White House.

January 27, 2017

PDT: Week One

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:55 PM
Tags: , ,

President Donald Trump (PDT) spent his first week as usual, diverting people’s attention from his destruction of the country by whining about media coverage of the crowds at his inauguration (much smaller than other inaugurations) and the majority of the popular vote for Hillary Clinton (lying about voter fraud). His MO is to keep people from noticing what he’s really doing.

To avoid falling into that trap, I’ve put together a few of his actions during his first week. You can sign up for continuing weekly summaries from Think Progress to keep posted on what PDT hides under his blustering, shallow complaints. Or as Bill Maher calls it, “The war on facts.”

trump-pen

An order to “ease the burdens” of the Affordable Care Act. This includes elimination of advertising that encourages people to enroll in health insurance before the cutoff date of January 31, this upcoming Tuesday. [Note: audio from the GOP meeting in Philadelphia show that congressional Republicans are terrified of losing the Affordable Care Act.]

A reinstatement of the “global gag rule.” Federal funding will be banned for all international organizations providing information to women regarding abortion services–just like in every other GOP administration.

Executive memoranda to move the stalled Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines forward. PDT has a good reason for expediting environmental checks to ignore pipeline problems: he owns stock in the companies building these pipelines.

Executive orders about immigration. PDT is threatening “sanctuary cities” with federal funding cuts and publishing a weekly list of undocumented immigrants committing crimes. He also plans to build additional detention centers and continue plans to “build the wall.” Because Mexico refuses to pay the $25 billion for the wall—despite promises from PDT—he promises to charge a 20-percent tariff on goods coming from Mexico, in essence making people in the United States pay for the wall through increased prices. PDT has a draft of his order stopping refugee resettlement and stopping travel from Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. These quickly prepared orders, spearheaded by senior policy advisory and chief strategist, white supremacist Steve Bannon—are most likely unenforceable and illegal.

Removal of the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP.

Doubling of initiation fees at the PDT-owned Mar-a-Lago and a tripling of PDT-branded hotels throughout the nation. Profits from these increased costs and expansion of hotels will go directly to PDT.

Elimination of a money-saving fee for new homeowners: PDT voided President Obama’s mortgage cost reduction, a .25 percent cut to federal mortgage insurance that would have saved first-time and lower-income home buyers about $500 a year.

 Drone strikes in Yemen. 

Promises to move the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. If carried out, this action will likely stop any possibility of peace between Israel and Palestine.

Selection of John Gore for DOJ deputy assistant attorney general. In civil rights cases, Gore has only defended people accused of violating civil rights laws.

Declaration of a “war on the press.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer selected “reporters” from outlets that publish “alternative facts” (fake news) and PDT praise before mainstream outlets such as AP. Conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones claims his site Infowars was offered White House press credentials. White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon said that the media “should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut.” According to Bannon, the media’s role is to just “listen.”

Support for only two of 36 “Day One” promises from the campaign trail. PDT created a moratorium on new regulations and a federal hiring freeze, increasing costs and reducing transparency. His lie in this statement was that he wanted to stop the massive increases of federal hiring during the time of President Obama, an increase from 2.7 million to 2.8 million people. He has another 661 promises to go.

Continued nomination of Andy Puzder. His CKE Restaurants received 33 more legal complaints from workers on Thursday, including four allegations of sexual harassment, 22 complaints about wage and hour violations, and seven unfair labor practices charges.

A diverse cabinet. PDT promised that his cabinet would “absolutely” look like America, including at least one Hispanic person who is Hispanic. The billionaires he selected are mostly white and male.

Pay for play. PDT selected New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to serve as ambassador to the UK, contrary to his promise not to appoint political donors to negotiate with other countries.

Promotion of “alternative facts.” Kellyanne Conway, PDT’s counselor, introduced the term now commonly used for PDT’s lies.

“America First.” PDT’s isolationist statement during his inauguration supports the anti-Semitic organization opposing U.S. involvement in World War II.

Erasure of science. PDT put a freeze on all EPA grants and contracts; banned agencies from communicating with the public, including a social media blackout for the Department of Energy’s renewable energy team); and briefly banned the Department of Agriculture from publishing research until public outcry forced this ban to be overturned.

Crackdown on protesters. At least six journalists are facing felony charges resulting in at least ten years in prison if they are convicted after they were filming protesters at the inauguration. This is after a Trump supporter who shot a protester in the abdomen has been released without charges.  GOP lawmakers in ten different states want to criminalize peaceful protests.

Targets on blue states. PDT has declared an investigation on “large states”—specifically California and New York—to find those three million undocumented immigrants who he claims voted illegally. (PDT must not consider Texas to be a “large state.”) Corrected for citing a Pew report that actually found no voter fraud, PDT accused the author of “groveling” instead of admitting he was wrong.

Control of Voice of America broadcasts: PDT can now use this State Department-run agency as his own personal propaganda network.

Martial law in Chicago. PDT’s “alternative facts” claim that the city is a place of “horrible carnage” and that two people were shot and killed there while the former president gave his farewell address on January 10. (Police stated that there were no fatal shootings on January 10 and no shootings at all during President Obama’s speech.)

Demands for more photos of Washington, D.C. from inauguration. PDT demanded new photos from the National Park Service director to give the idea that the crowd watching him matched his falsely inflated numbers.

Standing ovation at the CIA. PDT’s claim that he received a “standing ovation” from CIA members last Saturday meant that he didn’t understand they couldn’t sit down unless they had his permission.

Moving to reopen “black site” prisons. Because PDT believes that “torture … works,” he plans to have a place where this can happen—even after his new secretary of defense, James Mattis, got confirmed because he promised that the U.S. would not resort to torture.

Muzzling agencies. Agency employees were told to stop communicating with the public through news releases, official social media accounts, and correspondence.

Roll back fuel economy standards.

Blocking regulations. All regulations not formally published in the Federal Register have been frozen. These 62+ regs include a cancellation of sanctions against Burma and rules to give military spouses preferences in federal hiring, mistreatment of horses, and streamlining income tests for federally-subsidized housing. One that frequent fliers might find interesting is the withdrawal of a rule to inspect aircraft fuselages for cracks.”

Blocking Canadian border. Canadians were denied entrance to the U.S. because they honestly replied to the question of whether they were “pro-Trump or anti-Trump.”

Pillage countries for oil and other resources. The most frightening statement from last week is that U.S. will have another chance to keep the oil from Iraq. “To the victor belong the spoils,” PDT said. ISIL is now using his statement in recruitment videos, and military stationed in the Middle East are much less safe.

A recap of some of PDT’s lies in the past week.

PDT and other Republicans bitterly complained about President Obama “constantly” issuing executive orders “that are major power grabs of authority”—the tyrannical danger of the White House making policy without Congress. Tyranny has arrived.

It’s the end of the first week for the new president. Notable is that he is less popular than “Obamacare.”

December 23, 2014

Year Ends with President’s Achievements despite Do Less Than Nothing Congress

The 113th Congress passed 286 bills during its two-year term, only three more than the 112th Congress which had the lowest recorded total in congressional history and less than one-third of the 906 public bills passed by the infamous “Do Nothing Congress,” the 80th during Harry Truman’s second term as president. Fifty-one of these bill were signed last Thursday, saving the 113th from being the worst. Congress struggled to complete even routine tasks, and one-fifth of the bills were to name a postal or other government facility.

GOP senators used the filibuster to block almost all major legislation, and the House finished off the process when Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) blocked proposals from the floor unless they had a GOP majority support. For almost an entire month, Congress couldn’t even keep the government operating. Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a 32-year veteran of Congress, described the 113th Congress as “disgraceful.” [The following chart shows the number of bills before the last 51.]

bills passed by congress

The fall election netted Republicans 13 members in the House, leaving 188 Democrats. In the Senate, Democrats dropped to 44 members, losing eight seats. Two senators are progressive-leaning independents. Thirty-one states now have Republican governors, and 80 percent of those states also have a GOP legislature.

Two years ago, Democrats won the Senate, had more votes for House members than Republicans did, and took the presidency through a majority vote. Despite these progressive victories, conservatives declared that they had a mandate to destroy President Obama and proceeded on that path. In this election, Republicans the same mandate, again trying to deny the president any rights.

Despite these unpleasant numbers for progressive people in the United States, there is hope. In his end-of-the-year press conference the president asserted that he is energized, and his actions since the election demonstrate his high level of vigor. A few things that President Obama has done in less than two months:

  • Announced his support for net neutrality, asking federal regulators to toughen their laws by putting utility-like regulation on broadband providers.
  • Made a climate deal with China to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Issued an executive order to protect undocumented people from the threat of deportation and keep families together.
  • Signed off on EPA regulations with the EPA to limit ozone emissions.
  • Oversaw Western sanctions on the regime of Vladimir Putin, a move that is destroying the Russian economy and dropping the value of the ruble by at least one half.
  •  Explained to the people of the United States that the Keystone Pipeline benefits only huge corporations with resources in Canada.
  • Renormalized relations with Cuba, effectively bringing a Marxist-Authoritarian government into the capitalist light and paving the way to ending a 54-year embargo against the country.
  • Released 17 detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, over 10 percent of the detainees at that time.
  • Noted that the Treasury Department sold the last investment related to the Wall Street and auto bailouts.

Another end-of-the-year surprise came after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) insisted that his fellow senators stay in town to vote on a point of order. He wanted his fellow GOP senators to support his position that the spending bill was unconstitutional because it funded President Obama’s immigration actions. He got only 22 votes. Republicans were so angry that 20 of them, including leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX), voted against Cruz’s point of order.

Cruz’s demand led to the confirmation of over 90 nominees, almost all those who were pending. Notable among these is the confirmation of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Republicans had kept him waiting for 517 days on orders from the National Rifle Association because Murthy had called gun deaths a public health issue. Also Sarah Saldaña, confirmed as the firs Latina to head up the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was opposed by almost all the Republicans. Her vote was 55-39, however, not as close as the 51 to 41 for Murthy. The lack of filibuster kept the vote for these people to a simple majority rather than the 60 percent necessary in the past.

thanks-cruz-1-638x319

Another victory, thanks to Cruz, is the confirmation of 12 judicial nominees changing 9 of the 13 federal Circuit courts of appeal to a majority of Democratic appointments. Until recently, 10 of the 13 had a majority of appointments made by GOP presidents. The confirmations were also extremely diverse: 42 percent women, 19 percent African-American, 11 percent Hispanic, and 11 percent openly gay men or lesbian women, making this the most diverse group of judges in history. Diversity in judicial diversity appointments have greatly progressed since the middle of the 20th century.

judicial_diversityWhen President Obama started his first term, the conservatives—both politicians and pundits—predicted total disaster for the country. Despite their attempts to stop everything that the president promoted, the country is making progress. The conservatives were wrong.

Gas is close to $2 a gallon, unemployment is falling, and the stock market, that skyrocketed during President Obama’s time, stays stable. The president’s approval rating is back up to 47 percent.

The 5-percent annual pace of GDP growth in the third quarter of this year, revised up from the estimated 3.9 percent, is the best quarterly growth since 2003. That was the year before George W. Bush got his second term. Economists believe that the improving economy will continue. The news caused the DOW stock market to soar over 18,000—an increase of 224 percent since President Obama first took office.

A majority of the public rates the country’s economy as “good” for the first time in seven years, when George W. Bush was president. In the CNN/ORC poll, 51 percent of the respondents found the economy to be either “somewhat good” or “very good,” up from 38 percent last October and 10 percent in September 2011.

The economy added 321,000 jobs in November, surpassing expectations and giving 2014 the highest job growth since 1999. The unemployment rate is below 6 percent, the first time since George W. Bush left the country in shambles. Thus far this year, the U.S. added almost 2.7 million jobs, the most since 1999, and dropped the unemployment rate to 5.8 percent from when President Obama first took office. Unemployment rates fell in 41 U.S. states in November; only three states—Connecticut, Louisiana, and Washington—saw these rates go up. Mississippi has the highest rate at 7.3 percent. In six years, President Obama created 4.26 times as many jobs as his predecessor in eight years.

Consumer spending surpassed previous estimates of 2.2 percent to 3.2 percent, partly fueled by the low price of gas. After saving hundreds of dollars this year, consumers may save an average of another $550 next year just on gas.

About 6.4 million Americans have enrolled for individual insurance plans for 2015 through HealthCare.gov in the participating 36 states. Another one million people enrolled in individual states with their own exchange marketplaces. The drop in the number of uninsured is the largest in four decades. Despite promises from conservatives that private-sector employers will get rid of their own coverage plans, that hasn’t happened in many companies. Walmart dropping its plan was the exception, and that company’s plan was largely worthless to many employees because people were employed for fewer than 29 hours of work a week and therefore got no health insurance anyway.

In other health expenditure news, premiums are going down and customer satisfaction is going up. The increase in health care spending is the lowest in 50 years, and the number of medical errors is shrinking system-wide.

Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) attempt to destroy the president failed on two counts: Benghazi and the IRS. Much to the fury of many conservatives, a GOP-led House committee’s report, quietly released the day before Thanksgiving, stated that the Obama administration was not at fault for the four deaths at a diplomatic outpost in Libya. Two days before Christmas, Darrell Issa (R-CA), no longer chair of the House Oversight Committee as of January, released a report exonerating President Obama of any blame in the IRS scandal.

Despite a waste of resources in an attempt to prove a connection between the president and accusations that the IRS had targeted conservative organizations for punitive action, Issa failed to support his false belief. Instead he resorted to attempts to connect Democrat legislators with the IRS scandal and rejected any information that the IRS targeted more progressive groups than conservative in investigating non-profit status. After two years of playing “gotcha” with the President of the United States, Issa lost.

The Republicans had a lot to say about the president’s executive orders. Their response to good news? Nothing. Just silence.

One last thing: Sean Hannity has been voted the worst news host by his colleagues at Fox, MSNBC, and CNN.

June 28, 2014

Election Have Consequences

Election years between presidential elections are usually pretty ho-hum. Primaries come and go with almost no one caring except for the people who lived in the states where they occur. No longer. The Tea Party obsession with destroying the U.S. government which hit a peak in 2010 makes primary-watching right up there with the World Series and the World Cup. Some pundits may have thought that Rep. Eric Cantor’s loss to an unknown Republican two weeks ago was the high point, but Tuesday’s struggle in Mississippi surpassed that in another GOP crisis.

In early June, incumbent GOP Sen. Thad Cochran failed to get over 50 percent in the Mississippi primary and was forced into a runoff with opponent Tea Partier Chris McDaniel. The night before the runoff, he described his election as “unstoppable,” and then lost by 6,693. Cochran won by 1.8 percent after he asked for help from black, probably Democratic, voters. Mississippi law doesn’t require recounts, but McDaniel has refused to concede, saying that he’s looking into voting “irregularities.”

In a campaign that could be called McCain v. Palin, an extremist radical conservative tried to paint a conservative as too far left. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) politely described McDaniel as inexperienced, and his running partner in 2008, Sarah Palin, was joined by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to defend McDaniel.

Before the primary, an attempt to sneak into a nursing home to take photos of Cochran’s wife, who suffers from dementia, led to arrests. One of those arrested, a McDaniel supporter and founder of the state Tea Party, killed himself this week. The campaign also attacked Cochran’s daughter, Kate, for criticizing McDaniel on her Facebook page with a creepy photo of her and the hash tag “#Who’s Ya Daddy?”

In the early morning hours after the primary, three McDaniel supporters, Tea Party members, mysteriously locked themselves into the basement of the Hattiesburg courthouse next to the ballots. According to a report, Constable Jon Lewis, a big McDaniel supporter, had helped them get in. They claimed they wanted to see how the ballot count was proceeding, but the building was empty after the task had been completed hours earlier.

The day before the runoff, a McDaniel supporter filed a lawsuit to stop crossover voting. Mississippi has no party registration, but state law prohibits voters from participating in the GOP runoff if they voted on a Democratic ballot in the primary. Another state law requires any voters in a party primary to support that primary’s nominee in the general election. Although a federal appeals court struck down that law as unenforceable in 2008, the South keeps unconstitutional law on the books in perpetuity. The lawsuit was dismissed.

Far-right GOP gubernatorial loser in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli threatened to send poll watchers into precincts with largely black voters. The watchers didn’t materialize, but the Tea Party is crying “foul” about blacks voting in the runoff.  “Our whole system is corrupt,” said a woman who attended the McDaniel post-election party. “We deserve to be called the most corrupt state in the nation.”

Two days after the runoff, Palin called for Tea Party members to leave the GOP and form a third party. She commiserated about McDaniel’s loss with Sean Hannity on his Fox program:

 “Well, if Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then what’s the use in getting all gung ho about getting Republicans in there? So yeah, if Republicans aren’t going to stand strong on the planks in our platform, then it does no good to get all enthused about them anymore.”

Palin’s sour grapes comes from more than just Mississippi. Tea Party candidates lost in New York and Colorado, and Palin’s pick for the U.S. senator from Oklahoma, T.W. Shannon, lost by almost 23 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had also backed Shannon as an “outsider.” It seems that John McCain has been replaced in Sarah Palin’s heart.

ted-cruz-sarah-palin-485x324 Already elected Koch-Republicans want to shut down government because of the EPA’s proposal to control carbon pollution from the country’s power plant. Congress has no authority to change the EPA’s proposal without without amending the Clean Air Act. The ultra-conservative Supreme Court also sided with EPA’s authority to impose specific standards for carbon emissions. This month’s SCOTUS decision upheld the plan to regulate power plant and factory emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Loonier yet, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has decided it’s in his best interest to sue President Obama because “the president is not faithfully executing the laws of our country.” The man who spent over $5 million to fight marriage equality now wants to waste more taxpayer money on a lost cause. After years of complaining about activist judges, the GOP is looking for an activist judge to rule against the president. The organization behind the suit would be the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) which is controlled by the GOP.

Boehner’s House of Representatives is actually the government branch that suffers from failure to perform. Jobs, immigration, tax reform, Export-Import bank, the Senate’s high-way-funding bill—these are a few of the areas in which the House takes no action. About Iraq, Boehner said, “It’s not my job to outline for the president what tools he should use or not use.” According to the U.S. Constitution, deciding about war is Boehner’s job. About the serious immigration problem, Boehner said, “I want to get our members to a place where they are comfortable, whatever that is.” He’s named a “working group” to eventually “suggest to the administration things that we think can be done.”

When asked what specific executive actions he intended to challenge in court, he said, “When I make that decision, I’ll let you know.” He’s left Washington for over a month. By September he may have some ideas.

Even Fox network Neil Cavuto blasted a Republican, specifically Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), for the proposed lawsuit:

“There are far more important things that you guys have to be addressing than filing lawsuits passed by each other. BY THE WAY, ROME IS BURNING.”

Bachmann’s said that the GOP needs to defund the executive branch, and Cavuto proclaimed:

“Think about what you are saying. Defund the Executive, Congresswoman? If Democrats had said we are just going to defund President Bush, defund the Executive, you would have laughed them out. … I think Democrats would be in their right minds to laugh you out now. … Rome is burning and you are filing.”

After it was clear to President Obama that Boehner had abdicated his responsibilities, the president made 180 executive orders compared to George W. Bush’s 291 and Ronald Reagan’s 381. Boehner’s 112th Congress passed only 284 bills, the fewest since the 1940s, and his 113th Congress is on track to pass fewer. Currently, it has passed 121 bills with only 48 days—many of them not full days—until the session is over.

The conservatives are going off the rails in three different directions: shut down the government, keep the president from taking any actions, and form a third party. We’ll see how well these ideas work in hiding the GOP incompetence from the voters.

Far-right conservative Erick Erickson said it best on redstate.com: “I’m just not sure what the Republican Party really stands for any more other than telling Obama no and telling our own corporate interests yes. That’s not much of a platform.”

Yup. Erickson is right.

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