Nel's New Day

November 11, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-Two – Meddling in Foreign Affairs

Today is Armistice Day, a commemoration of world peace. At least it was for 35 years until 1954 until Dwight Eisenhower made it “Veterans Day”—but still for peace. It’s still on November 11, but the peace is gone—just commemorating all those who go to war. Maybe more of them if Dictator Donald Trump (DDT has his way).

The media may be consumed with Alabama’s senatorial candidate, Roy Moore, and his sexual assaults but Robert Mueller continues with his investigation into Russian involvement in the presidential election. Carter Page, one of a small group advising DDT on foreign policy, testified before the House Intelligence Committee last week that he told both DDT’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and current White House communications director Hope Hicks about a July 2016 trip to Moscow to meet with high-placed Russian officials. At that time, Page congratulated DDT’s foreign policy team for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment” in changing the GOP platform to fit with Russia’s preference.

Also in the transcript from Page’s seven-hour testimony is Page’s email to DDT campaign aides, read aloud by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), that describes “a private conversation” with a high Russian official. Page wrote that he had been provided “incredible insights and outreach” by Russian lawmakers and “senior members” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration during the trip. Earlier he stated that he had only brief greetings from the official. Page is one of at least nine DDT-connected people who had contact with Russians during the campaign.

Revelations about the exchange of Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya show that they agreed to exchange “dirt” on Hillary Clinton for possibly overturning the Magnitsky law sanctioning Russians for murdering a Russian tax accountant accusing the Kremlin of corruption.

George Papadopolous may have told investigators that he lied about his planned collusion with Russia to protect DDT.

A “modified” gag order has been ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson regarding the criminal case against former DDT campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates. The order seems to be in response to Manafort’s lawyers declaring that the charges are “ridiculous.”  Although statements to the public from lawyers, defendants, and witnesses are not outright banned, they are prevented if they “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.” Jackson said, “This is a criminal trial, and it’s not a public relations campaign.”Indictments for former national security advisor Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr. may be upcoming. These two were involved in a plan to kidnap an Islamic mullah seeking refuge in Pennsylvania from Turkey, Fethullah Gülen, for a $15 million payment and turn him over to the Turkish government. Flynn Sr. was working for Turkey while he was a part of the DDT team. VP Mike Pence was behind the selection of Flynn for his short-lived position in the White House.

DDT told CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a conspiracy theorist advocating the belief that the hack during the presidential campaign was an inside job and not by the Russians. Bill Binney, former code-breaker at the National Security Agency, is a frequent guest on Fox News and Russia’s state propaganda RT. Intelligence agencies, including Pompeo’s CIA, already know that Russian agents hacked into the U.S. elections. DDT sees himself as the CEO of intelligence agencies, and the political Pompeo is comfortable with that position.

After DDT talked with Vladimir Putin, he said that Putin stated in a “very, very strong” way that Russia didn’t meddle in the election so DDT’s intelligence agencies are wrong. Russian officials said that Putin didn’t talk with DDT about the election. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slammed DDT for believing Putin over his own intelligence agencies. (America Second after Russia.) McCain also criticized DDT for not addressing human rights during his stop in Vietnam.

DDT has been in Asia for over a week, touting his personal properties and claiming “America First.” His visit to his property in Hawaii marked the 97th day in 287 days since his inauguration that he spent at a Trump-owned business. In Japan, he hawked U.S. military gear before he bragged about how other countries had underestimated the United States. “It was not pleasant for them, was it?” he finished. In Seoul, DDT bragged about the Women’s U.S. Open being held at his golf club in Bedminster (NJ). The visit came the day after USA Today reported that DDT “has installed at least five people who have been members of his clubs to senior roles in his administration.” The article added, “[N]ever in modern history has a president awarded government posts to people who pay money to his own companies.”

Fog kept DDT’s helicopter grounded, aborting his visit to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, but South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, had no trouble driving there to wait for him.

In Bejing, DDT told business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam. “I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.” President Xi Jinping of China supported globalization, saying relations among countries should be “more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all.” Hours after DDT gave his “America First” speech to the business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, eleven countries put together the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now it’s “America Outside.”

DDT bragged about the $250 billion deal with China buying into the United States. These are not done deals, but pledges—just like most of DDT’s “promises.”

In a first among presidents, DDT did not answer questions from the press while in China. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that China wouldn’t let him. “America Submissive.”

More ignorant DDT statements from his trip.

DDT and his family may have participated taken a part in the purge of Saudi royals by the new Crown Prince. DDT sent his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to Riyadh to talk with the new prince, and both DDT and his son Donald Trump Jr. praised the purge. Subjects of the purge, possibly facing criminal charges, include princes, senior ministers and the former head of Saudi’s military; one of them had disagreed with DDT on Twitter. The prince is now freer to block Iranian influence in Syria and Qatar. The Lebanese prime minister has resigned, claiming fear for his life from Iran, but possibly forced by Saudis. Lebanon accused Saudi Arabia of detaining its prime minister, while Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon. Kushner, assigned to create peace in the Middle East, has fanned “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” in an attempt to obtain contracts of over $380 billion for military gear. The possible instability in the Middle East from Saudi’s actions may have a negative affect on the stock market.

In the year of leaks, the Paradise Papers, a release of over 13 secret million documents, may reign supreme. Thus far, people have learned about ways that multinational companies such as Apple and Nike conceal their money offshore as well as how Russian investments helped fuel the rise of Facebook and Twitter and how DDT’s inner circle, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, is connected to Russian oligarchs. The Paradise Papers also shows how multi-billionaire Robert Mercer not only avoided a 39-percent tax on profits from his foundation but also used his money to publicize falsities about the Clintons, including the promotion of the Uranium One scandal that DDT is trying to use in order to veer attention from his involvement with Russia.

DDT’s departure from the Paris climate agreement leaves the U.S. totally isolated since Syria, the final holdout other than the U.S., announced its plans to sign the accord.

The Senate Commerce committee just approved Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) for NASA chief with all 13 Democrats objecting. If senators approve him, a non-partisan science research agency will be led by a conservative climate denier with almost no scientific or technical experience.

The DOJ finally dropped its prosecution of Desiree Fairooz, a retired children’s librarian who laughed during the confirmation hearing of AG Jeff Sessions. Her second trial was set for next week after a judge overturned the jury’s conviction, ruling that “laughter is enough, standing alone” is not enough for a conviction.

Last June, DDT told Native American tribes to start drilling on their reservations in violation of federal regulations, according to a new report.

After a line installed by Whitefish Energy failed, Puerto Rico is down to 18 percent power 50 days after Hurricane Maria. Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the Pentagon’s liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), announced that relief efforts is moving from crisis to recovery with federal troops leaving the island because of the expense.

Next week returns to the GOP tax cuts primarily benefiting the wealthy.

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October 6, 2017

Congress Supports Women–A Little

North Korea, hurricanes, mass shootings, anti-women and anti-LGBTQ rights’ bills and order—all these are the orders of the day during the past few weeks. Scouring the news, however, reveals the passage of the Women, Peace and Security Act, in both the House and Senate with voice votes and then signed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) today.

For the first time, the U.S. is required to develop a strategy to increase women’s participation in peace negotiations and conflict prevention. The Department of Defense, State Department, and USAID are to strengthen the participation of women in peace and security processes along with post-conflict relief and recovery efforts.

The bill entered Congress five years ago because women have such a small part in conflict resolution. Only nine percent of negotiators at official peace talks were women between 1992 and 2011. Only five percent of police and military forces are women in many places throughout the world. In 2011, President Obama created a strategy on women’s participation in peace and security processes by executive order that was updated in 2016.  The order did not improve the situation much in the past six years: In 2015, only 3 percent of UN military peacekeepers and 10 percent of UN police personnel were women. DDT has nominated white men to almost all positions.

The new law not only requires that women’s participation be a priority in federal agencies but also mandates personnel for these agencies to train and consult with women in conflict areas. It also gives Congress the right to oversee that the law is enacted. The law requires the International Military Education and Training program, that brings foreign officers to U.S. military schools, to double the number of women in three years. Out of participants from 140 countries between 2011 and 2015, only seven percent were women. Also to be doubled is the number of female peacekeepers in five years and female participants in the State Department anti-terrorism training program within three years. Women must be at least ten percent of nominees for U.S.-funded police training programs around the world.

This new law may seem like a distraction to the various foreign policy challenges and security threats, but it does require gender diverse groups which can be better at preventing and resolving conflicts. In 2001, U.S. and allied NATO forces gave billions of dollars to stabilize the country and help to reconstruct it. Yet Afghan women had little involvement in decision-making, leaving procedures to men. Women stayed at home with no input into their fate as male soldiers and tribal elders determined what to do with them. Community needs, understood by women where terrorist groups and insurgents were embedded, were determined by men without any contribution by women.

How women move the world toward conflict resolution:

  • Syrian women have risked their lives to secure local ceasefires, mobilize campaigns for reconciliation, and open secret schools in ISIS-controlled territories.
  • Policewomen in Pakistan address grievances to rebuild trust with the civilian population.
  • Women in South Sudan are forming coalitions to resolve the conflict between government and opposition leaders.
  • Peace accords are 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years if women take part in their development because women often bring up issues connected to causes of conflict and violence.

Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-NH), a founder of the bill, said:

“Women are disproportionally affected by violence and armed conflict around the world, yet far too often they are under-represented in the peace process. We know that when women are at the table in peace talks, conflict prevention, and conflict mediation, it increases the likelihood that these negotiations will succeed. Our legislation will help ensure that women have a meaningful role in security and peace around the world.”

According to research, female security forces are more likely than men to de-escalate tensions with excessive force. Women are better at providing a perception of a security force’s integrity. They can also get more information about security risks, and women are more likely to report gender-based violence to female personnel.

Congress has now passed the law, but DDT wants to slash the tiny budget for women, peace, and security efforts. This needs to be stopped. Other important steps forward are improved targets for all U.S.-offered training related to peace and security issues and outlines of specific steps to better use women’s skills and perspectives. Guidelines are necessary for recruitment, retention and outreach to involve women in prevention and peacebuilding efforts. Congress also needs to legislate the U.S. National Action Plan on women, peace, and security so that U.S. agencies are held accountable for the commitment shown in the Women, Peace and Security Act.

The law is a baby step, but it’s a start.

September 22, 2017

DDT’s UN Speech:  World War III, Anyone?

Voters for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claim that they prefer him because he can get them jobs and make them well-off. They like his love of violence even better. At rallies, his audience cheered when he told his supporters to physically attack any protesters and promised to pay for the lawyer if his supporter would attack a black protester. The audience yells in approval when he bullies, threatens, and humiliates any opposition—women, people with disabilities, people of color, anyone who criticizes him. His proposed budget cuts taking money from helping people to vastly increasing the military expenditures show how little he cares for humanity.

During his campaign, DDT endorsed torture and applauded waterboarding. As president, he retweets videos of himself physically attacking others, the most recent a doctored video of his golf ball hitting Hillary Clinton in the back and forcing her to fall. In a speech to Long Island (NY) police officers, he called on them to be physically brutal and then issued directives to send military surplus weapons to local law enforcement. DDT’s first pardon was in admiration for a man who physically abused thousands of people, primarily minorities, under the guise of being a county sheriff.

DDT’s executive orders lead to physical abuse, for example the Muslim ban and the direction to immigration to drag all Latinx into deportation, including those who contribute to society and who are U.S. citizens. He wants to take health care from tens of millions, leading to illness and death, and incarcerate far more people, partly because of misguided perspective of drug use. In less than eight months since his inauguration, DDT has called for U.S. military action—or actually perpetuated this—in several Middle Eastern countries (especially Iran), Venezuela, Mexico, North Korea, Libya, Pakistan, and probably other places that I’ve missed.

The only places that escape DDT’s ire are Russia, Israel, and countries where his name is on a building. He even admires the violence that other countries wreak on people in the U.S. He denies that he apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the security force’s violence while Erdogan was in the U.S. Yet this past week, DDT effusively praised his “friend,” Erdogan, and gave him “high marks” for “running a very difficult part of the world.” DDT described his introduction of Erdogan as “a great honor and privilege” just hours after Erdogan supporters beat up protesters at an Erdogan speech.

Of the foreign leaders from 32 countries that DDT has hosted, 15 are from nations scoring in the bottom half of the 112 democracies measured by Global Democracy Ranking or from nations that have autocratic rule.

DDT’s speeches and interviews during the UN General Assembly demonstrate his need to express violence and insult world leaders. Instead of using diplomacy, he promised to eradicate North Korea at any provocation, as if killing over 25 million people—not to mention the ten million residents of Seoul, South Korea—was no problem. In the same speech, he attacked Iran by threatening to break it. Unlike any other U.S. president who has spoken before UN representatives, DDT delights in violence brutality as a reflection of his power.

DDT loses his favorability rating in the United States, the countries throughout the world—except for Israel and Russia—have an increasingly unfavorable view of him. Without positive views from those two countries, the averages for favoring him (50 percent) and trusting the U.S. (27 percent) would have been far lower. By August, confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing in international affairs had dropped from 64 percent for President Obama to 22 percent to DDT. If it’s any consolation to DDT, George W. Bush’s ratings were worse by six years after he was first inaugurated, but DDT still has over three years to get there. Detailed comparisons of the last three presidents are available here.

Events at the UN may have brought down his favorable ratings even more. His “joke” about the collapse of Venezuela fell flat:

“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”

After four seconds, he received a very tepid response.

DDT the ignorant appeared when he created a new African country—Nambia. In fact, he praised their health care. There are the countries of Namibia, Zambia, and Gambia; DDT could have meant any one of them. But there is no Nambia—yet. With this speech, DDT made the United States the joke of this year’s UN General Assembly. Even more than their health care, DDT likes their resources. “My friends go to Africa to get rich,” he said. Namibia is one of the biggest producers of uranium in the world. “I congratulate you,” DDT said about his friends. “They’re spending a lot of money.”

DDT the bully emerged during his lecture to North Korea as he repeated his name of “rocket man” for a country’s leader. In his juvenile attempt to taunt Kim Jung-Un before an international community, DDT embarrassed the United States. The speech included a casual threat to annihilate over 25 million people by saying that he might “totally destroy” North Korea.

Fifteen years ago, a U.S. president spoke to the UN about his unnecessary preemptive war with Iraq that he started the next spring to divert attention from the war in Afghanistan. George W. Bush’s action led to hundreds of thousands dead and wounded, a vast increase in the number of terrorists throughout the world, trillions of dollars taken from the people of the United States, complete ruin for several Middle East countries, and the disappearance of finding terrorists in Afghanistan. DDT’s speech before the UN shows that he hopes to emulate George W. by diverting attention from North Korea to one in Iran.

The deal that DDT ridiculed prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for years. UN inspectors verified that Iran is complying with the terms of a deal to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon for a long time. DDT’s administration has verified that Iran is keeping its bargain, and the world, including Russia, supports it. DDT’s threats have caused Iran to develop a nuclear weapon if the U.S. breaks the deal and then confront the U.S. in war. At the same time, breaking the Iran deal would show the world that DDT refuses to seek a diplomatic solution with North Korea and fail to support the U.S.

About DDT’s message to the UN, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said, “It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.” Iran took the opportunity to be critical of the U.S. at a sympathetic international forum.The U.S. has its problem with Sweden. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has threatened retaliation if the country, one of 122 backing a UN treaty for a total nuclear weapons ban, signs the treaty. His letter states that Sweden’s signature could affect U.S./Sweden military cooperation with U.S. military support and threatened U.S. support for Sweden’s role in NATO.

Sarah Snyder, an associate professor who studies human rights at the American University’s School of International Service, said that DDT’s language in his speech such as “loser terrorists” is more suitable for schoolyard fights than arguing “about international policy.” DDT’s vocabulary hasn’t improved an continues to be counterproductive. After Kim called DDT a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” DDT shot back with “madman.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov approved of DDT’s message that “the U.S. would not impose its way of life on others,” but it didn’t approve of DDT’s namecalling. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:

 “We continue to strive for the reasonable and not the emotional approach…of the kindergarten fight between children.”

Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported DDT’s speech in his own delivery to the UN because of his hatred for Iran.

Current senior aides argued against DDT’s attacks on Kim Jung-Un, including his use of “Rocket Man” in an attempt to humiliate the young leader, telling him that it would lead to an empasse with North Korea. (First, the weapons are missiles, not rockets, and second, Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is a sympathetic figure.) Former aide Sebastian Gorka claimed that he and another former white supremacist aide Steve Bannon helped write the speech before they left the White House. Current chief of staff, however, looked unhappy about the speech as DDT delivered it.

Thinkprogress.com noted: “Nowhere in the speech did Trump appear to see the irony in threatening other countries at an institution meant to uphold peacekeeping. Nor did Trump explain why other countries would want to negotiate with an administration that’s so eager to undermine America’s international agreements, such as the Iran nuclear deal.”

The world is suffering from the results of climate change in just the past month—an unprecedented large number of strong hurricanes, two earthquakes in Mexico after a hurricane, landslides in the Congo and Sierre Leone, and flooding in South Asia. Yet DDT spends his time planning how to pander to his supporters by inciting violence that can lead to World War III.

June 17, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-One, Any Success Elusive

Two years ago yesterday, a New York businessman rode down an escalator to become the president of the United States who is under investigation for criminal charges. Supporters didn’t believe an article about investigating Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for obstruction of justice, but he angrily tweeted that he is being investigated. Much has been said about DDT invoking executive privilege, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Nixon from using the privilege to withhold evidence in a criminal investigation in 1974. The investigation is also looking into money laundering by DDT associates and the business affairs of DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Russian hackers breached voting systems in 39 different states, according to a new report. This number is almost twice what was previously reported. Russians tried to delete or alter voter data, accessed software for poll worker use on Election Day, and breached a campaign finance database.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA director Adm. Michael Rogers refused to talk about DDT’s involvement with Russia in  a hearing, but Coats told his colleagues in March that DDT asked both him and Rogers to stop former FBI director James Comey in a probe into Michael Flynn. DDT asked Coats in front of CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

DDT’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, has clients with Russian connections include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who is close to President Vladimir Putin and Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank. Kasowitz also represented one of Deripaska’s companies for years in a civil lawsuit in New York and was scheduled to argue on the company’s behalf May 25, two days after news broke that Trump had hired him.

Jay Sekulow, with a specialty in “religious liberty” case, is now the television face of DDT’s legal team. Sekulow claims that the president is a “unitary executive” with unlimited national security powers. Former VP Dick Cheney expanded this theory when George W. Bush’s White House Counsel John Yoo justified using torture. The U.S. Constitution does not provide unchecked power for any of the three branches of government.

A Few DDT Failures:

A federal judge has ruled that DDT failed to conduct an adequate environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline. Judge James Boasberg requested further briefings to see if the pipeline should be shut down until a full review of impacts of potential oil spills.

The Senate voted 97-to-2 to stop DDT’s power to unilaterally scale back sanctions on Russia.  Mike Lee and Rand Paul didn’t like the idea, and Secretary of State is not happy about tying “the administration’s hands.”

The ethics office refused a “retroactive” waiver to exempt white supremacist Steve Bannon for all of his infractions since he came to the White House. The “waiver” to nullify ethics claims was neither signed nor dated, raising the question of whether DDT knew anything about it.

The three-judge unanimous panel ruling against DDT’s travel ban in the 9th Circuit Court decided that he didn’t comply with federal immigration law. DDT failed to offer justification to stop the entry of over 180 million people into the U.S. basing its ban on nationality. Judges cited DDT’s tweets as an “authority.” In a case about the ban before the 4th Circuit Court, lawyers want judges to ignore DDT’s statements as president and rule only on the executive order and DDT’s official actions. If the Supreme Court hears the case, it will have to address both this questions and early constitutional issues from the 4th Circuit ruling.

Comey might have been fired earlier if he had refused to meet with DDT. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara  said he was fired the day after he refused a call from DDT because he saw direct contact between the president and a law-enforcement official. He reported the call to AG Jeff Sessions on March 9 and was fired “twenty-two hours later.”

Congress is putting the heat on DDT about releasing tapes of his conversations with Comey after DDT accused him of lying under oath.

DDT’s Attempts at Foreign Policy:

In the week since eight Middle East countries have blockaded Qatar, a country that DDT had supported only days before, the U.S. has crossed from one side to another. DDT called the country extremist, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for diplomacy, and the United States completed a sale of 36 fighter jets for $12 billion that President Obama had initiated. Iran, Kuwait, and Turkey have declared themselves on the side of Qatar, and the blockading countries have broken up families. U.S. incompetence can put either Russia or Turkey as broker in the Middle East crisis, and Turkey is already deploying troops to help Qatar

The Philippines military has confirmed that the U.S. will provide “technical support” to fight ISIS in that country, but President Rodrigo Duterte says he doesn’t want the help. If that’s true, it means that the military may have gone rogue, and the U.S. could be in the middle of the mess.

After dumping 194 countries by rejecting the Paris climate agreement, DDT made the United States into a footnote with the G7 group of industrialized nations. The other six reconfirmed a commitment to reducing carbon emissions in a statement after its environment meeting that EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt left early. “G6” countries are already meeting with California in a beginning to work with some states in slowing down climate change. A German fact check of DDT’s speech about saving $3 trillion shows he didn’t account for massive savings in fiscal benefits of avoiding massive climate changes.

DDT is afraid to go to Britain if there are large-scale protests. He told current prime minister Theresa May that he’ll wait until the British public supports a visit. UK will save lot of money in not having to break out the gold coach for him.

And a Few Other Pieces:

D.C. and Maryland are suing DDT because of the millions in payments he is receiving in his Washington hotel that violate the Emoluments Clause of the constitution. Government lawyers content that this prohibition doesn’t count for DDT. If a federal court decides whether the case can continue, the plaintiffs will request that DDT’s personal tax returns be publicly revealed. Another 196 congressional Democrats are suing DDT for the same reason.

DDT is blocking more people from his Twitter account, including VoteVets.org, a group representing over 500,000 veterans, family members, and civilian supporters. A record of his more notable blocks, including famous novelist Stephen King, is available here.

DDT’s climate quote of the week: “You’ve got one heck of an island there. Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.” The statement was made to Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge of Tangier (VA) on an island that has about 25 years left before sea-level rise from climate change puts it under the water. Of the 450 population in the town first settled in the 17th century, about 87 percent voted for DDT in the place that is sinking 15 feet each year.

DDT’s wife Melania has reported that she officially moved into the White House with their son Barron.

Anyone watching comedy shows or news have seen clips of DDT’s Cabinet meeting where members and attendees were forced to suck up to the fragile DDT. Former CIA member Ned Price compared the fawning to what could be seen around North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un. Best headline: “Roomful of Pussies Purrs Its Praise At Feral Orange Tomcat.” Only Defense Secretary James Mattis didn’t play the game, instead praising the members of the military. Lesser noticed, however, is the parody that came from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Well worth watching! The article is also a detailed debunking of DDT’s claims. If you really want to read the comments ….

Being president makes a lot of money for DDT, and not just from his salary. His recent financial disclosure shows tens of millions of dollars in income from his “Trump” golf courses and resorts that get the biggest boosts from places he personally visits. One of these is Mar-a-Lago that doubled its 2016 incoe to $29 million. DDT visited at least one of his own properties in one-third of his first 108 days in office, 36 times. Details here.

Republican approval of how things are going in the U.S. dropped 17 points from 58 percent last month to 41 percent.

For the first time in his 22 weekends, DDT is not spending time at one of his golf courses or resorts. Instead, he has gone to the presidents’ retreat of Camp David. It may not be a common practice. DDT called Camp David “rustic” and said, “You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes.” This facility does not require millions of dollars per visit like DDT’s time at his personal business places such as Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster (NJ). DDT should be okay: he’s only going overnight.

May 21, 2017

Sunday Speeches: DDT Pandering; GOP Spin

The grand introduction to a nine-day tour by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was today’s pandering speech to over 50 Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, a speech written by Islamophobic Stephen Miller. Miller knew that DDT had to walk a fine line between not offending his racist U.S. base and the audience of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, including 3.3 million in the U.S. alone. Gone was the term “radical Islamic terrorism” which he used as a litmus test for conservatives, damning all people who refused to say this expression. Only once did he slip in “Islamic terrorism” among the 32 times that he referred to terrorism in the 34-minute speech. The teleprompter read “Islamist,” but DDT may be accustomed to his own term which refers to the religion rather than a political movement.

Saudi Arabia was the safest place to give the speech because DDT is in sync with the authoritarian regime there. In his desire to feel royal, DDT is comfortable with their ostentatious wealth, lack of concern for rule, and a disregard for democracy. He had also just favored them with the $110 billion arms sale that President Obama had delayed on the basis of human rights and how the weapons would be used as well as the proposed Qatar purchase by Qatar of “a lot of beautiful military equipment,” as DDT describes them. DDT brought them other multi-billion dollar deals such as $6 billion for Lockheed for 150 Black Hawk helicopters and $15 billion for General Electric.

The speech also avoided other such alien concepts to the Middle East as democracy, gender equality, and political reform—again matching DDT’s approach toward ruling. Even better for Saudi support, he blamed Iran instead of ISIS “fueling sectarian violence”; he spoke about the “despair” of the Iranians on the day after they freely elected a liberal reform president and demanded that the largest Shiite country in the Middle East be more isolated. According to DDT, Iran is to blame for “so much instability,” and Shiite Hezbolla and Yemienis were equally condemned.

DDT claimed his purpose was not to “lecture” before he launched into ponderous and repetitious demands of “drive them out” like an Old Testament prophet declaiming that the Muslims are totally responsible in this “battle between good and evil.” Nowhere did he mention that his hosts are responsible for the Wahhabi Salafit extremists who murder “innocent people.” DDT also praised Saudi Arabia for its “strong action against the Houthi militants in Yemen,” an action using U.S.-made cluster bombs in crowded cities indiscriminately killing people and exacerbating a massive humanitarian crisis.

“We are adopting a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests,” DDT told his audience, indicating that these “common values” can include misogyny, murder by beheading, and dictatorships in the name of oil and gas. He said, “Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination.” But the generality didn’t define “friends,” which could include Russia, Iran’s supporter, and the warring militias in the Middle East. DDT said:

“We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.”

Translations for this statement could  include that the U.S. can reverse its positions at a minute’s notice based on a knee-jerk reaction to an occurrence but that the U.S. will not oppose crimes against humanity unless it will be of some financial benefit.

DDT’s speech is being declared “presidential,” the common description for words he didn’t prepare that were carefully read with no off-script comments.

Yet former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams pointed out a major flaw, “an understanding of what produces extremism”:

 “The president’s approach would work if terrorists were coming from outer space, and our task were solely to organize against them militarily. That is no doubt part of the task—but not all of it, because they are coming from within the societies whose leaders he was addressing. He offered no explanation of what was producing this phenomenon…. Trump had no theory and therefore could not suggest what might be done to prevent more extremists from rising.”

While DDT was in Saudi Arabia trying to overcome the ghastly scandals of May, his faithful were spinning his actions on the Sunday talk shows.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that DDT talked about firing former FBI director James Comey with the Russian officials to prove he wasn’t distracted by any problems in Washington. As usual, Tillerson pressed his talking point that U.S. and Russian relations were “at a low point.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster explained DDT’s meetings with the Russians as a desire to “find areas of cooperation.” Asked about DDT’s statements about Comey, McMaster said:

“Well, I don’t remember exactly what the president said. And the notes that there apparently have I do not think are a direct transcript.”

DDT reportedly called Comey “crazy” and “a real nut job” as well as firing Comey relieving “great pressure because of Russia.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) disagreed with DDT that Comey is a “nut job.” On Face the Nation, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said:

“This is a horrible thing for a president to say. Former Director Comey is no way, shape, or form a ‘nut job.’”

Even Republican members of Congress didn’t defend DDT’s statements. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that the investigating committees on Russia’s meddling need to have “the notes.” He added:

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis…. People got what they voted for.”

Asked about DDT’s speech, Rubio said that he differed with him on DDT’s approach to human rights issues:

“I think it’s in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights. We just have a disagreement on the right way to approach it.”

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis,” Rubio said.

With the possibility of again running for president, Rubio may have felt the need to soft-pedal his response, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not shackled by any such requirement when he told Fox’s Chris Wallace that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey “had no business in the Oval Office” and cited Russia’s invasion into Crimea:

“Mr. Lavrov is the stooge of a thug and a murderer, who used Russian precision weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo, who has committed human rights issues all over the place.”

McCain called himself “almost speechless” about the report that DDT told Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he fired Comey  to take “off” some of the pressure about Russia. Almost, but not completely. McCain said, “I don’t know why someone would say something like that,” he told Wallace.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in his interview today that the House Intelligence Committee investigation is examining possibly Russian collusion with DDT and his campaign. House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that the scandal surrounding Russia goes far beyond DDT.

DDT may be back on U.S. soil sooner than expected. His staffers say that he is “exhausted” after less than two days of travel into his nine-day trip and  is already canceling some of his performances. This from the man who said that Hillary Clinton “lacks stamina” after her constant travel around the world while she was Secretary of State. Maybe he’ll be too tired to tweet.

 

April 14, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve, More Failures Plus War-Mongering

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) went by himself to Mar-a-Lago this weekend—no senior staffers to monitor him and his tweets. You can keep track of his trips there—seven out of weekends thus far—and expenditures to taxpayers. He left after referring to the U.S. armed forces as “my” military and glowing about the “most beautiful” cake in his restaurant there while talking about bombing Syrians to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hopefully, Xi didn’t get sick while he was at Mar-a-Lago because health inspectors has found undercooked meat and dangerous fish at the resort, one time before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among two broken coolers, 13 violations, three of them high priority, were found in the kitchen were a record for a resort that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

Distraction of the Week: DDT’s polls rose only four percent with the Syrian bombing so he dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, the first time that the nation’s largest non-nuclear bomb was used. The nickname supposedly comes from an acronym for the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, but considering that the most destructive device outside of nuclear bombs was developed by men, built by men, and dropped by men, it might more appropriately be called “father of all bombs.” The replacement cost is $16 million; the number of ISIS fighters killed is 36. Each death costs almost one-half million dollars in replacement charges for the bomb. Asked about whether he approved the strike, DDT refused to answer.

At the same time, DDT’s bullying tweets about North Korea are causing increasing tension with a country that could easily release nuclear bombs on the United States. Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, said, “Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. We will go to war if they choose,” he added. Without DDT keepers for a long weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. could be at war with North Korea by Monday.

Steep Learning Curve: About the healthcare plan, DDT said, “Who knew it was so complicated?” After talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping for ten minutes, he said that “it’s not so easy” for Beijing to quickly take care of North Korea. DDT told Xi that he “should let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un know the U.S. doesn’t just have aircraft carriers, but also nuclear submarines.” As if the entire world doesn’t know?! Then he protested that “you cannot allow a country like that to have … nuclear weapons.” First, North Korea already has these weapons, and second, DDT said during his campaign that all countries should have nuclear weapons and just fight with them. have nuclear weapons.

Whither Syria: Last week, DDT bombed Syria after warning Russia to get out of the way and probably letting Russia warn Syria. This week, he bombed Syria again, killing 18 members of the ISIS-opposition team. He claims that “we’re not going into Syria,” but the U.S. already has at least 1,000 members of the military stationed in the country. DDT’s Syrian policy during the past two weeks could cause whiplash:

  • March 30, 2017 – Bashar Assad can stay in power; the U.S. won’t take part in another Middle Eastern conflict against a leader backed by Russia.
  • April 5-6, 2017 –  Assad must leave power because of his alleged chemical attack that killed about 80 people; DDT bombed the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
  • April 6-10, 2017: The issue is not Assad but chemical weapons use.
  • April 9, 2017: Attack Isis first and let Assad stay or go depending on the Russian position; (Tillerson) the priority is the defeat of ISIS, and overthrowing Assad would be disastrous.
  • April 9, 2017: The country should have multiple priorities beyond defeating ISIS.
  • April 10, 2017: The U.S. will respond to barrel bombs by bombing Syria.
  • April 10, 2017: No, the U.S. will not respond to barrel bombs.

Erasing the Holocaust: In an effort to justify DDT’s Syrian bombings, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Bashar Assad worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi leader did not “sink to the level of using chemical weapons.” Questioned about his statement, Spicer apologized and said that the Hitler used gas in the “Holocaust centers.” Yet he maintained that Assad’s acts were worse because Hitler didn’t use “airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.” On the first day of Passover, commemorating the Jewish flight from Egypt in 1313 BCE, Spicer didn’t mention the six million Jews killed during the Nazi regime, but he personally called Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson to apologize—but no one else.

More Spicer Statements:  Earlier in the week, Spicer had to take back his statement that DDT’s bombing took out 20 percent of Syria’s entire air force by explaining it was 20 percent of one wing—about 12 planes out of several hundred. He said he didn’t want to draw attention away from DDT’s attempts to “destabilize” the Middle East. No, that’s not a typo. More of Spicer’s gaffes here. At a townhall meeting, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said that Spicer “needs to go.”

Ally Russia: Spicer also referred to Russia as one of our allies. At a G7 meeting in Italy with six other industrialized nations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Abandoning Ukraine would give Tillerson a lot of money from Russian oil. Asked what Tillerson meant by his question, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “Rhetorical device.”

Another Firing: The National Security Council is still suffering from shifting members. Michael Flynn was fired, Steve Bannon was demoted, and now GOP pundit K.T. McFarland got the axe. Known for bragging in a meeting about “wearing shoes from Ivanka Trump’s brand,” she early on in her brief tenure told seasoned staff members that they needed to “make America great again.” Her disappearance follows several other potential major DDT-chosen players in the administration during just a few months. Evidently she was offered a job as ambassador to Singapore.

No More Data to Shame “Sanctuary Cities”: After only three weeks of publishing a weekly report about cities that supposedly refused to cooperate with ICE, DDT has stopped this effort because of massive mistakes. Another reason may be that the reports show the incompetency of ICE as they confused different counties in statistics and blamed some areas for events in others.

Texas Voters Win: Veasy v. Abbott has been wandering the courts for years, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that the Texas voter ID law’s intent is discriminatory against minorities. If the court order is upheld on appeal, the entire law would be thrown out, and Texas would be brought back under federal supervision. The question now is whether five SCOTUS justices will agree if the high court takes the case.

Iran Deal Successful: One of DDT’s virulent criticisms during the campaign was President Obama’s agreement with Iran to control its nuclear weapons. Iran is following the agreement—probably to the disappointment of DDT who would like to see failure for all the former president’s actions.

Lawsuit of the Week: Watchdog groups plan to sue DDT because he has stopped releasing logs of visitors to the White House, including lobbyists. The problem became obvious last week when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) reviewed intelligence reports on the White House grounds before he briefed DDT about what DDT’s staff told him. In the past, exceptions to the visitor logs have been private visits to the family. The defendant is the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing the Secret Service, which is subject to freedom of information requests. Information is also being sought from DDT properties where he holds meetings such as Mar-a-Lago.

Climate Lawsuits against DDT: Seventeen states are suing the federal administration regarding DDT’s orders to promote climate change, including the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that sets standards for power plants. The group also notified Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, that they will sue to if the government stalls on standards requiring specific electrical items meet low-carbon emission goals. In addition, it has petitioned New York federal courts to force DDT to implement efficiency standards for other goods, citing no justifiable reason for delaying these regulations for another six months.

Resistance: Lest DDT think that the protesting against him and his policies have been quelled, three protest marches are scheduled for the second half of April, one of them tomorrow:

  • April 15: Tax March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns.
  • April 22: March for Science, building a “broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science. We are advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”
  • April 29: People’s Climate March, defending the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.

More failures and bit more of Trumpia tomorrow.

August 31, 2015

Vote on Iran Deal Nears

Conservative media, including Fox, is still distributing the falsehood started by the Associated Press that Iran could use its own inspectors in investigating a military site (which it called a nuclear site). Republicans initially tried to use this announcement to scuttle the Iranian deal, but two hours later AP deleted the information. The original report stated that Iranian scientists would inspect air and soil samples at Parchin and that the number of these samples would be limited to seven. Media ran a scary headline: “AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site.” The report that inspections in the past were carried out by Iranians with no one else allowed on the site came from a leaked draft agreement and is not included in the final one. The edited version eliminated the incendiary details and kept quotes from outraged GOP lawmakers .

According to arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis, the leak was to make the agreement sound bad and to hope that the information would make congressional lawmakers start making demands. The AP allowed itself to be duped.

In raising serious—and false—doubts about the Iran agreement, the AP joined Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who evidently leads GOP foreign policy. During the August recess, a Jewish lobbying group paid for members of Congress to visit Israel and hear Netanyahu’s arguments to opposed the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran, signed on July 14 by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. The 58 members of Congress who visited Netanyahu in August were told that they should visit him instead of their constituents if they want contributions from wealthy Jewish donors.

TV ads focused on making people believe that the Iran agreement to control the country’s nuclear weapons is evil should come to an end this fall. Congress has only 18 more days for the first vote to follow the prime minister of Israel rather than the President of the United States.

The process in Congress:

  • Return from recess on September 8, nine days from now.
  • Begin debate on a GOP-sponsored “resolution of disapproval” against the deal.
  • Gather at least 60 votes to move the resolution forward in the Senate.
  • Vote on the resolution by September 17 with a simple majority of 51 votes to pass.
  • Pass the resolution because the GOP has the 51 votes.

If (or when) both congressional chambers approve the resolution against the Iran agreement, the president has 12 days to veto the resolution. Congress has another 10 days to vote on an override. The president needs 34 votes to avoid an override; thus far, 31 senators have committed to supporting the agreement and voting against the override. The House would need at least 44 Democratic votes to override a veto. Passing a resolution of disapproval and overriding a veto would bar President Obama from waiving most of the U.S. sanctions on Iran, necessary to complete the agreement with Iran.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) received much publicity when he came out in opposition to the agreement. He thinks that the country would be better off with the nuclear aspects but objects to the role Iran may take as a trading partner. His goal in opposing the Iran deal is to keep Israel’s domination in the area for another half century. He claims that he doesn’t want a war with Iran, but GOP presidential candidates do. Scott Walker would bomb Iran on the first day of his presidency. Most of the other candidates weren’t as clear in their intentions except they would rescind the agreement. Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate who supports it.

Mike Huckabee, far down in the polls, visited Israel to get financial support although he cannot legally accept donations from foreign nationals. His earnings from selling survivalist gear to Doomsday believers on his radio show seems to be insufficient to run his campaign. Ignoring Israel’s liberal abortion policy and its universal healthcare, Huckabee opposed U.S. foreign policy that the West Bank is illegally occupied territory. He said it sounded like “someone is illegally taking land” (which it is) and refers to the Palestinian seat of government as Judea and Samaria.

Walker has promised Israeli officials an increase in military aid should the U.S. have the misfortune of Walker as president. To Walker—and Israel—the one-third of the U.S. foreign aid budget that Israel gets every year isn’t enough for its 0.001 percent of the world’s population.

Within the seven countries that signed the deal, only U.S. hawks are in opposition. Camille Grand, an expert on nuclear nonproliferation, said that no constituency in Europe is against the agreement. He said, “The hawks are satisfied [with the deal].” In the world, the only strong opposition comes from Iranian hardliners, U.S. Republicans, and some Israel officials. Like the GOP opposition to the new START nuclear treaty, U.S. officials are eager to derail an agreement to advance the nation’s interests because of their hatred for President Obama.

Worried that the Senate may not muster the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), leader in undermining U.S. foreign policy, has made a statement, asking the Congress and the president to “speak with one voice when it comes to dealing with the Iranians.” That would be Cotton’s voice after he persuaded 46 other senators to sign his letter to Iranian officials telling them not to trust U.S. officials. Cotton also wants to do away with the filibuster, ignoring the fact that the Republicans originally created the mandate for 60 votes to advance. The senators who express such amazement that Democrats might want to filibuster the Iran agreement ignore the GOP cause of almost total gridlock in that chamber during President Obama’s two terms. They also don’t recognize what might happen if they insisted on only up-and-down votes and then lost the simple majority in the senate.

Just looking at the names of people against the Iran agreement should be proof that the opposition is wrong. These are the same people who supported the Iraq War. George W. Bush learned nothing from that disaster and called the president “naive,” and David Frum, Bush’s speechwriter who coined “Axis of Evil” for Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, accused President Obama of anti-Semitic rhetoric. In the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), called war against Iraq the “only reasonable option” and “the right war for the right reasons.” Mastermind of the Iraq War, Dick Cheney, plans to give an address against the agreement on September 8 although he’s no longer in office. Reporter Eli Lake, who argued about Iraq’s non-existent WMD, accuses the president of practicing the “politics of fear” to achieve peace. Columnist Bill Kristol, board member of an Israeli committee, was the first to write in March 2003 that “we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators” in Iraq. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who turned against his own party to support the Iraq War, has become the new leader of United against Nuclear Iran after its former leader decided that the Iran agreement was a good deal. Not in office in 2002, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, testified at that time that Iraq had WMD. He is taking the same position with Iran.

Today’s problems with Iran come from Bush’s preemptive war on Iraq which expanded Iranian influence and a nuclear program exacerbated by the U.S. wars in the Middle East. Without the Iraq War, ISIS may never have existed. The agreement is a way to clean up the mess left by Bush and his hawks.

The Los Angeles Times has come out in support of the Iran agreement and has a very simple reason: “Although it certainly represents a gamble, the deal makes it highly unlikely that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon during the next 10 or 15 years. Without it, there is no such assurance…. It is far from a perfect deal … but at the end of the day, it must be supported because the alternatives are worse.”

With a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, Israel is a far more dangerous country than Iran because Netanyahu is willing to bomb anyone who gets in his way. The United States should take a good look at the far-right leadership in Israel and reconsider sending Israel one-third of our foreign aid budget to help wage war.

On the pro side of the agreement are dozens of former Israeli military officials, dozens of retired American generals and admirals, and a wide array of experts on nuclear non-proliferation. On the anti side is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is leading ignorant Republicans around by the nose. I’ll side with the experts.

May 16, 2015

Eight-second Bits for Your Weekend

gallery-thumbnailsTwitter has reduced information to 144 characters, and texting has decreased communication to far shorter bits. With the industrialized world concentrating on the brevity of technology, people now lose concentration after eight seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. To put this bit of information into perspective, the average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds. The following information has been chopped up into eight-second—or less—sections.

The media has been abuzz with Jeb Bush’s whirling this past week that went much farther than flip-flopping. Asked whether he would have attacked Iraq if he knew then what the world knows now, he produced a series of answers: yes, I misheard, I misinterpreted, I can’t answer because it’s a hypothetical, I can’t answer because it does a “disservice” to people in the service, and finally—or most recently—“I would not invade.”

A non-scientific poll of over 2,000 Republican voters has put Jeb at .85 percent, somewhere below Sarah Palin write-ins. In the same poll, 60 percent of the respondents said that they wouldn’t vote for a president in 2016 if he were the candidate. And that was before the problems in the past week. We can look forward to the next “scientific” survey to see if that opinion holds.

bush graphHouse Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) likes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), saying that “he showed he was fairly deft in his ability to smoothly answer those same questions.” Chaffetz might be questioned about his opinion after Rubio’s speech last weekend at South Carolina’s “Freedom Summit” when Rubio told the audience that his approach to terrorism comes from the film Taken: “We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you.” Rubio might want to polish his policy a little.

Who’s the “greatest living president”? CNN’s Chris Moody asked this question of several possible and real GOP presidential candidates at the “Freedom Summit” event. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Donald Trump came up with Ronald Reagan. (For those who haven’t kept up with recent events, he died almost 11 years ago, and the question didn’t ask “alive in our hearts.”)

Republicans can’t say Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama which leaves them with a Bush—both of whom invaded the Middle East. Reagan is about all the GOP has, however, because Bush II caused the Middle East problems, Bush I raised taxes, Nixon had to resign, and Hoover started the Great Recession. That leaves Eisenhower who developed a great deal of the country’s infrastructure, and the GOP hates infrastructure.

A Public Policy Poll determined that only 40 percent of Republicans think that the U.S. doesn’t plan to invade Texas—forgetting that Texas is part of the U.S. Almost one-third of GOP voters think the government wants “to take over Texas,” and another 28 percent aren’t sure. The strongest believers are supporters of Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick. Among Tea Partiers, half said yes to the idea of a conspiracy, and 25 percent aren’t sure. That leaves only one-fourth of Tea Partiers who don’t believe in the myth. (For those leaning toward belief in the takeover, Jade Helm 15 is a military exercise to train people for the Middle East.)

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” according to both Lord Acton and later George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Several state legislators have suffered from this problem in the past year. New York’s criminal indictment against the Democrat state Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, in January was preceded by indictments against Republican House Speakers Bobby Harrell (SC) and Mike Hubbard (AL)–all for misuse of money. The most recent criminal indictment against a state House Speaker, however, was against Missouri’s John Diehl for sexual texting with a teenage intern. The texts were discovered in April, but Diehl denied them until this past week when he confessed. The anti-birth control, anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-safety net, anti-health care, anti-union, pro-family values House Speaker then waited a few days to resign, probably hoping that his problems would blow over. The 49-year-old ex-House Speaker is married with three children. Missouri Family Policy Council, the state affiliate of the Family Research Council, had earlier praised the speaker “for demonstrating moral leadership and true integrity”; Diehl’s website features “personal responsibility.”

In Vermont, state Sen. Norm McAllister, one of nine Republicans n the 30-member chamber, refuses to resign while facing felony sexual-assault charges. Charges include sexual assault and prohibited acts for demanding sex from tenants to offset rent payments, raping an employee, and attempting to have a woman provide sex to farm workers. The dairy and goat farmer lost a possible $20,000 agricultural grant for his farm after his arrest, and conviction could mean a life sentence. He can keep legislative his seat until then.

What’s more pathetic than a man going blind because he refused to get “Obamacare”? Maybe blaming his lack of health insurance on President Obama. South Carolina self-employed Luis Lang, 49, lives in a house worth $300,000 and used to take pride in not having health insurance. After a series of mini-strokes, bleeding in his eye, and a partially-detached retina tied to diabetes cost him almost $10,000 in health care, he changed his mind. The Affordable Care Act would have let him get a subsidy for health insurance because his income/assets were too high for Medicaid and he couldn’t be turned down for pre-existing conditions. Lang decided to get insurance a few weeks after the 2015 enrollment deadline, and Medicaid isn’t a possibility because South Carolina refuses to expand the program, free to the state with federal dollars.

Lang and his wife blame President Obama and congressional Democrats. Mary Lang said, “[My husband] should be at the front of the line because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues. We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.” Where was she when he could have enrolled 30 months ago? According to his (semi-illiterate) GoFundMe page, he knew about his serious health problems 18 months ago. The Langs learned absolutely nothing about the disaster they have made of their lives because they hate the president and the Democrats.

Crooksandliars.com suggested a way to solve Lang’s dilemma: the new Apple Watch. During a stop in Tempe (AZ), Jeb Bush suggested that people won’t need health care insurance in the future because of the Watch’s health apps. Jeb’s using his Watch to lose weight with the Paleo diet, the latest trendy diet, which is high in saturated fats by trying to replicate what people assume a diet from two million years ago. Some people swear by it; other studies show that it may cause brain change such as a “know-it-all” attitude, dementia, and memory loss. Maybe that was Jeb’s problem with answer the question about attacking Iraq again.

North Carolina has suffered from accusations of unconstitutional voter practices, but officials may not escape the most recent one. Federal law requires states to encourage voter registration in every state office, including public assistance and motor vehicle, but an analysis shows that the inauguration of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in 2013 caused the program to collapse. Up to 40,000 poverty-level citizens in the state may have been disenfranchised because 75 percent of visitors to state public assistance offices were never asked if they wanted to vote. Many offices don’t even stock voter registration application forms. Although the state Department of Health and Human Services expressed surprise at the finding, the State Board of Elections said they had been trying to get the DHHS to address to the issue and proved it with over 60 emails and calendar entries for meetings.

Ohio plans a more direct approach to eliminate low-income voters: 24 GOP members of the state House have co-sponsored a bill to charge Ohio citizens for the ID card required for voting, in essence a poll tax forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. Legislators claim that this will stop voter fraud, a problem found in 0.002397 percent of votes cast in the 2012 election. The bill exempts individuals with an annual income of $11,770 in 2015, but it’s still unconstitutional.

All news is not bad. The Vatican is preparing to sign a treaty which will recognize Palestine as a country. Israel, which refuses to grant legitimacy to their neighboring country, and the U.S. right-wing will have another reason to hate Pope Francis.

 

In an oddity from Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that President Obama’s sociability—or lack thereof—has “no effect on policy.” He said that the two of them didn’t do much together because “we don’t agree on much.” Conservative columnist David Brooks has argued that the president and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) could understand each other better if the legislator were invited to the White House for lunch. Brooks thinks that schmoozing makes all the difference. Lots of other people have agreed with Brooks. McConnell has blown up the urban myth.

 

gallery-thumbnailsNow you can check your goldfish to see how long it pays attention to you.

April 13, 2015

Rubio Wants to be the Young President

Another GOP presidential candidate rollout, today Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Writing for Nate Silver’s famous election analysis website, fivethirtyeight.com, Harry Enten puts him in the top tier following Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Despite Rubio’s poor showing in polls, Enten calls him “electable and conservative.” A hawk on foreign policy, he may avoid Rand Paul’s pitfalls; less extreme than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), he hasn’t alienated fellow senators; and more conservative than Bush, he could be an alternative, rather than a challenger.

resizeRubio’s entrance into the ring failed to make the splashes of the first two because Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy yesterday. His polling is even below Donald Trump with New Hampshire Republicans. Twitter responded with Rubio’s infamous video of reaching for a water bottle 11 minutes into his 14-minute speech responding to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union speech. Constant references to the incident may seem cruel, but his votes against the people of the United States are also cruel.

Tweets about Rubio’s positions were less funny than the water bottle. As one said, “Rubio used to believe in climate change. Now he’s running for president.” Another suggested that he would lose Latino votes through his denial of climate change. They also included his argument that employers should be able to fire people for being LGBT and recorded robocalls for the National Organization of Marriage, an anti-LGBT group. One tweet posted a video of his top-ten anti-LGBT statements. He has also called adoption as a “social experiment” on children and joined 29 other senators in voting against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

In 2013, the Russian parliament declared war on LGBT people with a law that promoted anti-LGBT atrocities, including beatings and causing LGBT Russians to try to flee the country. The same day, Rubio dropped his personal immigration reform legislation because of an amendment allowing U.S. LGBT citizens to sponsor foreign spouses for permanent residency, even if they had death sentences in other countries. Thirteen days later the Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, making Rubio’s argument moot. Because conservatives were increasingly opposed to his reform, Rubio may have jettisoned the immigration reform by blaming LGBT people.

Rubio has made as many—if not more—flip-flops as Rand Paul. Originally a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, he changed his position to look GOP presidential. He could separate himself from the GOP crowd by opposition to lower taxes for high earners and punishing the poor and working class, but he won’t. When he fails in persuading anyone toward his position, he caves to the popular GOP position on increasing income inequality. He makes promises such as improving the lives of poor people with no substance, even compromising in causing more harm to the poor.

To identify as the foreign policy specialist in the candidate field, he collected right-wing advisers who call themselves “reform conservatives” to address economic issues. Rubio’s tax reform pairs a few middle class benefits with massive cuts for the wealthy, similar to George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts that cost the country trillions of dollars. His tax plan would eliminate capital gains taxes and the estate tax, dropping taxes for the wealthy like Mitt Romney far below the 14 percent that Romney claimed he paid. Romney’s sons would also pay no taxes on the millions that they inherit from their wealthy dad.

Criticized by conservatives as too generous, Rubio added more regressional tax cuts for the wealthy into his earlier unworkable plan, greatly increasing his plan’s original $2.4 trillion deficits over a decade. He also followed the conservative approach that solves the increased deficit with massive reductions in social spending, just like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. In theory, that worked when he was just a senator. As a presidential candidate, he will be scrutinized for his tax and spending proposals. No one can successfully argue the success of simultaneous upper-income tax cuts, middle class credits, and anti-poverty spending.

Attempts to woo warring parties usually alienate both of them. Rubio wants both the conservative base and the left-leaning minorities. The Tea Party calls Rubio’s former immigration reform as his “amnesty” plan and refuses to believe that he has abandoned this position. His public scolding of undocumented protesters also alienated Latino voters. According to his own campaign staff, Rubio needs over 40 percent of the Latino vote but is trailing Hillary Clinton in polls with this population. Romney got only 27 percent of Latino vote.

Rubio brags that his foreign policy credentials as his signature, setting him above other GOP candidates, but he vows to block normal trade with Cuba, calling President Obama’s position a “victory for oppression.” Koch Brothers’ business megadonors think that Rubio’s philosophy is “out of step with the more noninterventionist” beliefs amongst Koch network donors.

In March, Rubio stumbled badly while questioning Secretary of State John Kerry on foreign affairs. Rhonda Swan, a Florida-based journalist, wrote that Rubio fails his own test that the next president have a “clear view of what’s happening in the world” and a “practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs.” The next week he complained that President Obama is nicer towards Iran than Israel, despite Netanyahu’s gratitude for the billions of dollars the Obama policy annually gives Israel and the help for attacks on Israel, for example the Hamas rocket assault. Rubio’s position is that he would immediately abandon U.S. allies and negotiating partners by “unilaterally” imposing “crushing” sanctions on Iran—which, as president, he couldn’t do.

Rubio wrote in his memoir that he has shifted among the Mormon, Catholic and Baptist churches. He grew up a Catholic before he became a Mormon, then switched back to Catholicism, then became a Southern Baptist and a Catholic, then left the Baptists and simply became a Catholic, then he became a Baptist again, then a Catholic again, all the while technically remaining a Mormon. Even right-wing websites are a bit snarky about this statement, responding that “many Americans might question how someone could attend both churches and fully share in both denominations.”

Last year he alienated both LGBT and conservative religious people by condemning discrimination against gays and lesbians and arguing they should be denied equal legal rights. He went farther this year with harsh statements against the pope for helping arrange talks between the US and Cuba, accusing him of not prioritizing “the cause of freedom and democracy.” Seventy percent of Latino voters identify as Catholic.

Enten may see Rubio as a viable “alternative” to Jeb Bush, but Bush has been working behind the scenes to collect the elite support to decide the nomination. Both are establishment-oriented candidates who aim for compromise within the party. The New York Times described Rubio’s competition:

“Scott Walker, who took on unions and won in Wisconsin, is a conservative hero. Ted Cruz is a favorite of the Tea Party. Mike Huckabee is a favorite of evangelical Christians. Then there is a long list of other conservative candidates—like Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal—who might compete for votes.”

enten-datalab-rubio-21 chart conservativeRubio has lost credibility with almost everyone in the GOP. He failed to carved a niche in any majority faction of the party, and his message fails to resonate with any wing of the GOP. A winning candidate needs to be seen as exceptional—and Rubio does not have that designation.

Rubio’s speech slogan is that “it’s time for our generation.” The 43-year-old disses his old mentor, 62-year-old Jeb Bush, as well as many more in the over-50 crowd—Huckabee, Santorum, Carson, Fiorina, Graham,  Rick Perry—even Rand Paul and Chris Christie. On the other hand, he has “young” competition: 48-year-old Scott Walker, 44-year-old Ted Cruz, and 44-year-old Bobby Jindal. President Obama was only 47 when he was elected for his first term. Everyone took the hit from Rubio’s slam against 67-year-old Hillary Clinton.

Other conservatives are attacking Clinton, for example Meet the Press host Chuck Todd who asked, “How does Hillary Clinton deal with this freshness issue?”

Panelist and journalist Maria Hinojosa responded: 

“I have to be honest with you. The terms ‘expiration date’ and ‘stale’ and ‘too late for you’ as a woman, it’s like, I don’t know if men have that same reaction, that’s nuclear.”

Panelist Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor of Baltimore, agreed, adding that the GOP is “stale.”

Rubio’s website uses the motto, “New American Century,” an organization that led the U.S. into war against Iraq. In 1997 founders called for regime change and much greater defense spending for the U.S. as the “world’s pre-eminent power” that led to George W. Bush’s “dominant” power. The focus was on military attacks rather than diplomatic strategy. By 2006, the organization had dissolved into a voice mail-box. Rubio may be bringing back the neo-con group to declare war on the world.

March 6, 2015

Prosecute Boehner for Netanyahu Speech

The rapture could have arrived with the GOP reception to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrival before a joint meeting of Congress on March 3 because of a secret invitation from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). During the speech, 23 standing ovations greeted his message that President Obama was failing the world in his diplomacy with Iran and that the victims of the Holocaust were weaklings. During Netanyahu’s 40-minute speech trying to destroy the emerging nuclear deal between the United States, Iran, and the major world powers, the prime minister was interrupted by applause approximately 50 times. Although he gave no alternatives to keep Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he did indicate that Israel would protest a negotiated agreement by taking military action “alone.”

The United States, Iran, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are close to an agreement guaranteeing strict inspections and controls on Iran’s uranium enrichment over several years in exchange for lifting sanctions against the country during the last five years. The strategy is to control Iran for a decade or longer until democratically-elected leaders can take power. Netanyahu insisted, however, that there be no negotiation until Iran stops “threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.” With no specific ideas he wants the U.S. to strike “a much better deal” that wipes out Iran’s entire nuclear infrastructure and maintains sanctions against the country “until Iran’s aggression ends.”

President George W. Bush’s similar policy of zero-enrichment allowed Iran’s centrifuges to grow from 164 in 2003 to approximately 19,000 centrifuges today, with Bush officials conceding during his presidency that “there was no way to reach a deal without Iran retaining at least a face-saving amount of enrichment capability.” The current negotiations started after an interim agreement with Iran that has frozen Iran’s nuclear program and rolled back its stockpiles of enriched uranium. Inspectors confirm that Iran is holding up the bargain. March 24 is the deadline for broad principles with technical details by June 30. Increasing sanctions has not stopped Iran, and losing the negotiation would allow Iran to accelerate its nuclear program with no oversight.

The five prominent newspapers from the LA Times to the New York Times failed to include some information about Netanyahu and his speech. Jim Naureckas of FAIR filled in pieces:

Israel owns nuclear weapons, an important piece of information when a foreign leader demands that the United States stop a rival state from getting nuclear weapons.

Iran consistently states that it has no interest in building a nuclear weapon, and the intelligence agencies of the United States doubt that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program.

Israel hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty although both the United States and Iran have. This guarantees “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Netanyahu has a decades-long record of making false nuclear predictions about Israel’s enemies and crying wolf. Almost two decades ago, he gave another speech to a joint session of Congress and warned:

“If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind…. The deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.”

That was almost 20 years ago, and Netanyahu has returned with more dire predictions about an imminent Iranian nuclear weapon. In 1992, 23 years ago, Netanyahu said that Iran was “three to five years” away from reaching nuclear weapons capability, and that this threat had to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S.” Netanyahu’s 1995 book, Fighting Terrorism, asserted that Iran would have a nuclear weapon in “three to five years.” In 2009, Netanyahu told a Congressional delegation that Iran was “probably one or two years away” from nuclear weapons capability. A year later he said, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. That’s what is happening in Iran.” By 2012, Iran was just “a few months away” from nuclear capabilities, according to Netanyahu.

In the 1990s, he temporarily transferred his focus to Iraq’s nuclear threat, claiming that there was “no question” that it was “advancing towards to the development of nuclear weapons.” Again he spoke to Congress in 2002 to say that Iraq’s nonexistent nuclear program was so advanced that the country had “centrifuges the size of washing machines.” He was part of the reason that the U.S. made a preemptive strike against Iraq, and the U.S. is spending trillions to recover from those claims.

Mossad intelligence chief Meir Dagan disagreed with Netanyahu in 2011 and said that an Iranian nuclear weapon was not imminent. He added that any military action against the country could end up spurring the development of such a weapon. He called Netanyahu’s idea of an Israeli attack on Iran the “stupidest thing I have ever heard.” A year later, the Israeli intelligence agreed.

Netanyahu spoke to Congress because he wants the following:

The United States to declare war on Iran because Israel doesn’t have the military to do so.

An embarrassing experience for the U.S. president who won’t take orders from Netanyahu.

Recognition that his false perspectives of Iran’s capabilities is superior to U.S. intelligence and diplomatic capabilities.

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) support to ensure a veto-proof majority in Congress for a bill to stop negotiations with Iran.

A re-election in Israel by taking on the U.S. president.

A firm alliance with the GOP and a threat of repercussions toward Democrats who oppose him.

A distraction with Iran from President Obama’s goal of a Palestinian state in the disputed territories and Gaza.

The United States has provided billions of dollars every year—an average of $8.6 million every day—to help Israel destroy Gaza and wipe out the Palestinians. Netanyahu expects this nation to provide even more funding to carry out his other wars.

Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash, described Netanyahu as “the Dick Cheney of Israel.” Karlin wrote:

“If this unprecedented effort of a foreign leader to publicly destroy the delicate foreign policy negotiations of a sitting US president succeeds, it will be US soldiers who die and are injured. This particular war, with a military as advanced as Iran’s–which possesses long range missiles–could also ignite a Middle Eastern conflict of horrific proportions.”

The Republicans want war, but they’re making the same mistake that George W. Bush made in 2003. They can’t see beyond getting into a war; they have no idea how to get out.

 

Opposing Netanyahu is no more anti-Israeli than opposition to President Obama is anti-U.S. The 200 veterans of the Israeli security services, all with the rank of general and called Commanders for Israel’s Security, call Netanyahu a “danger” to Israel. They are not anti-Israel, and neither are the six former generals who held a press conference in Tel Aviv last Sunday, urging the prime minister to cancel his speech. General Amnon Reshef, a hero for his role in the 1973 war against Egypt and Syria, said, “Nothing good for Israel can come from humiliating the US president.”

Hawkish former military chief of staff Dan Halutz has said that senior commanders know that Netanyahu’s lack of diplomacy creates an untenable situation in policing occupied territories. He said, “They recognize that there is no military solution to Israel’s predicament with the Palestinians and that borders created by force are inherently fragile and insecure.” The current Mossad head, Tamir Pardo, has declared that the “biggest threat to Israel’s security is the conflict with the Palestinians and not Iran’s nuclear program.”

 

Considerations to take away from Netanyahu’s speech:

 

  • The United States has a single foreign policy—not a Republican one and a Democratic one: A disagreement should be taken to the president and the public, rather than letting a foreign leader use the United States foreign policy for his own politics.
  • Boehner and Netanyahu’s actions weaken America’s bipartisan support for Israel: Together these two men have the sole intent of undermining the President of the United States and force people to choose between a commitment to Israel and to their own country. Netanyahu deliberately refused to meet with Democrats as they requested, which damages the U.S.-Israel relationship.
  • U.S. negotiations with Iran are the best way to proceed: Absent a negotiated, verifiable agreement, there is no way to ensure that Iran will not get nuclear weapons.
  • Almost all Israel wars since the country’s formation in 1948 have been initiated by Israel’s pre-emptive strikes: Israel has the 12th-largest military in the world with over 400 nuclear weapons.

 

A petition on MoveOn.org calls for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to be prosecuted and removed from office for conspiring with a foreign leader to interfere in U.S. foreign policy matters. Boehner’s  purpose for the Netanyahu speech was to force the United States into war with Iran. By secretly inviting Netanyahu to speak at a joint session of Congress in an effort to undermine the U.S. President, Boehner violates the 1799 Logan Act which forbids unauthorized government officials from interfering in relations between the U.S. and foreign nations, a power only the president has.

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