Nel's New Day

June 10, 2019

‘The Best [Corrupt] People’

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got elected, he frequently claimed that he would “surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” These “best people” have proved to be a disaster, even to DDT, and his phenomenal turnover means that at least 50 top officials left him within the past 16+ months since his inauguration.

Some of their names might not be well-known, but their disastrous influence remains. For example, leaving this past week was Kevin Hassett, chair of DDT’s Council of Economic Advisers and advocate of DDT’s tax cuts. Hassett said that his departure has nothing to do with DDT’s disastrous tariff decisions, but he questions a successful forecast in GDP growth for 2019 and is “very much concerned” about the growing fiscal deficit. Other departed economic advisers include Paul Winfree who came from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, Jeremy Katz who also pushed the tax cut bill, Dina Powell who worked with Ivanka Trump on “empowerment of women,” Gary Cohn who was formerly president and COO of Goldman Sachs who wasn’t happy with DDT’s blaming “both sides” in the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville (VA) and left after dissatisfaction with DDT’s tariff policy, Everett Eissenstat who left to be GM’s senior vice president of global public policy, Clete Willems who dumped a job to negotiate with China to join a law firm public law and policy practice, and Linda McMahon who helped build World Wrestling Entertainment who did stay with DDT to chair one of his super PACs. And these are only some of the people in his economic world.

Staying, of course, is DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who seems to be charge of almost everything because he doesn’t have any other place to go. Almost totally silent for his first two years, he appeared two times in the past few weeks. One was testimony with hardliner neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in a closed Senate session about DDT’s new immigration plan. Kushner managed to avoid most questions and failed to provide solutions while frequently interrupted by Miller. Republicans publicly praised Kushner for the presentation of a merit-based system for the highest skilled people but privately said that he lacked clear answers. He said that immigrants would be required to pass a civics test to get access to the point system but then avowed that the central purpose is to unify immigrant families, including mothers and children. He couldn’t answer a question about what do to with undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Because Kushner rejected the idea of DACA, GOP officials gave the immigration plan as much chance as Kushner’s peace plan in the Middle East—which is zero.

Kushner’s next performance, an interview with Axios, got a lot more media play: 

“Uh when there are things that they don’t do that we do not approve of, we we talk about that with them privately, but we feel like we’re in a position now where there’s a lot of interest that we have that are shared with them.”—about Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who tortured and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (After Kushner’s interview, DDT said he didn’t blame MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.)

“It’s a horrific thing that happened, and what we’ve done is we’ve called for full transparency.”—about whether the Saudis should return Khashoggi’s body for a proper burial.

“Look, I would not have come into government had there been anything salacious and nefarious that I was worried about.”—about the headline, “Background check chief has ‘never seen’ mistakes and omissions at level of Jared Kushner forms.”

“So, the answer is no, absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for president and be a racist. And what I’ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country…. Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.”—a statement that he made over and over about whether DDT is a racist, with the example that DDT continually claimed that President Obama was not born in the United States.

“Look, I think that the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”—about whether DDT’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims from the U.S. was “religiously bigoted.”

“It doesn’t make a difference.”—about the number of refugees permitted to settle in the U.S.

“I do think this is a terrible thing. Because you want people who have been successful in this country, who have taken advantage of the greatness of the opportunity that America provides, to go into government and to serve their country. When they get harassed and they have their companies looked at and their employees have to deal with this nonsense because people want to push a narrative, I think that’s a terrible thing.”—about whether Deutsche Bank should examine transactions moving cash from companies Kushner controls to Russians.

“[The meeting was] total waste of time, [and] we were not given anything that was salacious.”—about whether he should have called the FBI about Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and whether he would call the FBI if it happened again.

“Look, I’m not here to be trusted.”—about why Palestinians don’t trust him in the peace negotiations.

Kushner owns part of real estate company Cadre that received $90 million in mysterious foreign funding since he became DDT’s senior adviser. The money was funneled from a Cayman Islands through Goldman Sachs. Kushner was refused a security clearance, but DDT demanded that he be given one.

Another Cabinet member is also being investigated for conflict of interest. Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has high-level political connections in China because of her family’s shipping company which helped both Chao and McConnell prosper. Part of Chao’s job is to promote U.S. maritime industry.

Chao’s father James S.C. Chao was once roommate with Jiang Zemin who became president of China. He founded Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company in 1964 and received a big contract with the U.S. government to ship rice to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. In 1984, the Chao family acquired part of a Chinese-owned manufacturer of marine electronic equipment although they can’t remember the investment. With some of its ship-building financed by Chinese loans, Foremost ships over 70 percent of its freight, mostly iron ore, to China for steel manufacturing. DDT has temporarily lifted tariffs on imported steel. Chao’s Transportation Department has cut programs for U.S.-flagged ships and replacing ships to train U.S. mariners. Congress replaced the money, but Chao is still being questioned for her connections and status to boost Foremost’s reputation and visibility. In her confirmation hearings, she failed to mention her family’s deep ties to the Chinese maritime industry and her accolades China gives her, a violation of her questionnaire. Thirteen members of the Chao family donated over $1 million to McConnell’s campaigns and PACs. James Chao gave the couple at least $25 million.

McConnell himself also has problems with taking campaign money from Russians–$3.5 million from oligarch Oleg Deripaska. When DDT wanted to lift sanctions last year against mafia-esque Deripaska, Vladimir Putin’s friend, McConnell pushed the Senate into following DDT’s directions although the GOP House voted 362-53 to keep the sanctions in place. Lifting sanctions allowed Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal and its parent company En+ back into the U.S. Within four months of McConnell’s favor to Deripaska, who also worked with DDT’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Deripaska’s Russian aluminum company Rusal sent $200 million for a $1.7 billion aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky. Part of the action came from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), known for his ethical problems with prostitution. Vitter’s wife, one of DDT’s judicial nominees, was not been able to get confirmed for over 18 months—partly because she didn’t support Brown v. Topeka, the Supreme Court case that just celebrated its 55th anniversary for overturning public school segregation. Soon after Sen. Vitter told McConnell about brokering the deal to pour Deripaska’s money into Kentucky, wife Wendy Vitter was confirmed for her lifetime federal judicial term. And the payoffs are all out in the open, no need to hide any of the quid pro quo.

The husband/wife team work well together. Chao designated a special liaison, McConnell’s advance man Scott Inman in McConnell’s 2014 election, to help with grant applications and other priorities from the Transportation Department for McConnell’s state of Kentucky, providing him with at least $78 million for his projects as he runs for re-election in 2020. No other state has this advantage. Earmarks are supposedly no longer legal, but McConnell has found another way to funnel a large amount of money into his state as these details prove. As McConnell said, “All 100 senators may have one vote, but they’re not all equal. Kentucky benefits from having one of its own setting the agenda for the country.” And set it, he does.

May 10, 2019

DDT: Week 120 – Fear in the White House

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is busy trying to divert people from what he fears most—open proof that he has committed crimes, especially against the United States. He claimed that the Mueller investigation and report prove “a strong no collusion conclusion,” but he doesn’t want the report released or testimony from Robert Mueller. By Friday he moved on to “essentially, no obstruction.” The man who ran his presidential campaign as the best businessman for the job has been terrified to release his tax returns. DDT has good cause because new discoveries show that his business ventures lost over $1 billion in the decade between 1985 and 1994 at the same time his ghost-written book The Art of the Deal was published. Later he whined that no one was doing well at that time—no one except his father, Fred Trump, who made $53.9 million in 1990 and 1991 with only one serious loss, $15 million invested in DDT’s apartment project. In several years, DDT lost more money than almost any other individual taxpayer. He claimed “almost all real estate developers did” what he did to “show losses for tax purposes.”

DDT called the information about his business failures “inaccurate Fake News” but didn’t refute specific reporting. He confirmed that he was created a huge “tax shelter” and considered it “sport” to play with tax returns and financial dealings. He’s also suing to keep his tax returns from going to the House, tax returns that could vindicate his claim if he isn’t lying. And DDT kept Fox. Brian Kilmeade said that the report “shows that he lost a lot of money over the course of 10 years—if you consider a billion dollars a lot of money” and that it shows he’s “a bold businessman.”

What DDT wants people to ignore:

Twice in the past month, White House officials, at DDT’s direction, asked DDT’s first White House counsel, Don McGahn, to say that he believes the president never obstructed justice in order to calm down DDT. McGahn won’t. DDT initially told McGahn to tell Mueller anything for the investigation and is now ordering McGahn to illegally refuse to appear for congressional testimony after receiving a subpoena.

DDT said that he would let his fixer AG Bill Barr decide whether Mueller would testify after DDT said that Mueller should not testify after DDT said that he would let Barr decide. Mueller has postponed his formerly scheduled testimony on May 15. The DOJ controls any Mueller testimony until Mueller quits. Then DDT would probably claim “executive privilege” as he did with Mueller’s report.

In less than a year, the U.S. national debt rose from $21 trillion to $22 trillion.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-16 to declare Barr in contempt for not providing them with the full Mueller report.

Almost 800 former federal prosecutors from both political parties have signed onto a letter stating that Mueller’s report shows anyone not protected “by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President” would face “multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

The GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to testify about the Russian interference in the 2016 election, especially his earlier testimony about a June 2016 meeting with Russians. Some GOP senators and DDT are highly upset about the testimony.

The New York state Senate voted in favor of legislation allowing them to give DDT’s state tax returns to congressional committees.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) announced that he subpoenaed DDT’s tax returns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in accord with federal law Sec. 6103 of the tax code. Mnuchin said that Barr told him what to do.

The FBI is investigating DDT’s associate, Cindy Yang, to see if the Chinese are funneling money to DDT’s re-election campaign after DDT’s friend, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, was arrested for soliciting prostitution in one of Yang’s former Florida massage parlor. Details here.

DDT lost an attempt to stonewall a House subpoena for financial records from his accounting firm: a federal judge agreed to fast-track the full case for an appeals court to hear the case by summer. The firm Mazar had agreed to provide these records if the House were to subpoena them.

The House passed a $17.2 supplemental billion disaster bill by 257-150 over DDT’s opposition because he doesn’t want to give more than $11 billion to Puerto Rico. He lies about giving the U.S. territory $91 billion and about giving Puerto Rico more than any state. Thirty-four GOP representatives voted for the bill.

DDT’s pick for FBI director, Christopher Wray, said that the investigation into the Russian involvement with the election and DDT is not “spying” as Barr declared under oath.

The House holds the nation’s purse strings, and its Oversight Committee has threatened to withhold wages from Interior Department employees preventing interviews with people who blocked lawmakers from interviewing employees about Secretary David’s Bernhardt’s complying with recordkeeping laws. Committee chair Elijah Cummings stated that salaries would not be paid to any “federal officer or employee who prevents another federal officer or employee from communicating directly with any member, committee, or subcommittee of Congress.”

New Treasury Department requirements reveal more about DDT’s money laundering for the ruling Sassou-Nguesso family of Congo, former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, former Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov of Azerbaijan, former Kazakhstani official and oligarch Timur Kulibayev, former Almaty mayor Viktor Khrapunov of Kazakhstan, special Philippines envoy to the U.S. for Trade, Investment, and Economic Affairs Jose E.B. Antonio, vice presidential candidate and billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo (Hary Tanoe) of Indonesia, and former Soviet official Tevfik Arif. There might be many more.

National “security” adviser John Bolton is looking for a war for the U.S. Last Sunday, he falsely claimed that a long-scheduled deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Middle East was to oppose Iran. His comment comes on top of intensifying sanctions against Iran. Bolton also wants a war with Venezuela’s legally-elected president, but DDT disagrees after his long telephone call with Vladimir Putin. Another DDT reason to quit attacking Nicholas Maduro is DDT’s sale of a luxury ocean-view property in the Dominican Republic to a “mysterious shell company” possibly connected to the Maduro regime.

The “fake news” about Iran has come from Israel that will do anything to cause trouble between Iran and the U.S. In return to increased sanctions and other threats from the U.S. to eliminate oil experts through the Strait of Hormuz, Iran has threatened that if the U.S. chokes off its oil exports that exit the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, Iran will close the Strait to other nations. Because 30 percent of the world’s oil shipments use this route, Saudi Arabia could benefit, but a global crash could ensue. Nixon’s gas price surge from his rescue of Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War accelerated the drive for his impeachment. Two weeks ago, oil prices shot up to a six-month high after the U.S. refused to renew all Iranian oil waivers and warned China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey of sanctions if they didn’t comply: China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joked about “the idea of a coup” in Iran.

DDT seems to be almost as afraid of North Korea’s president, Kim Jong-Un, as he is of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. After giving Kim everything he wants—propaganda, stature, and cessation of military exercises—Kim continues making and test-firing a “tactical guided weapon.” Meanwhile, DDT falsely tells reporters that “there’s been no tests.” After the tests, DDT tweeted that dictator Kim “knows that I am with him.” North Korea launched short-range ballistic missiles at least twice this week, the second time while DDT’s special envoy was in the country and both based on a Russian design. The U.S. also seized a North Korean ship flouting sanctions by carrying banned exports of coal. China has said that it will not take part in three-way nuclear talks with the United States and Russia.

China seems to be ahead in DDT’s trade war. He’s so desperate from his failure in negotiations that he’s claiming that he will give all the money he gets from tariffs to buy U.S. agricultural products—supposedly more than China would buy—and sent this food to other countries where people are starving. All the people in the U.S. paying more for products from China to cover tariffs send food away from starving people in the U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue said he doesn’t know anything about more aid for farmers.

DDT seems to have dumped Kim Jong-Un for Xi Jinping. After bragging about “beautiful letters” from the North Korean president last year, DDT now says that the president of China sent him a “beautiful letter.”

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

March 15, 2019

DDT Promises Violence If Investigations Continue

During Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee, the former fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) warned of violent consequences if DDT doesn’t get elected president. He said:

“I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

DDT may be moving up the timeline. He began promoting violence at an August 2016 rally in North Carolina when he said that “the Second Amendment people” might have a way to stop Hillary Clinton “if she gets to pick her judges.” He continued his call for violence since he was inaugurated with his statement about “tough people” like “law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump,” adding that he hopes they stay peaceful. Since then he has used the same subtle statement, but he was much stronger in calling for violence in an interview with the far-right Breitbart website. Referring to the same “tough people” in talking about investigations into him, DDT added, “They don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” [Photo from a Bikers for Trump event at his Bedminster (NJ) golf resort on August 11, 2018; image by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.]

The calls for violence go beyond promising to pay for his audience’s lawyers if they initiate violence against protesters to the point of claiming that he will order violence from armed military and allies to physically defend himself against “Democrats” who investigate him.

As the investigations accelerate, especially after the Democratic control of the House, DDT’s terror about investigations become more manifest, for example this morning’s tweet that “there should be no Mueller report.” DDT may also have made Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin afraid of him. In the past, Mnuchin has said that he will comply with the law if members of Congress legally request DDT’s tax returns. During a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin added that “we will protect the president” to his earlier claim that he will “follow the law.” The two statements are opposite because the law states he will “furnish” the returns upon request of the committee’s chair.

Current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that two of DDT-associated attorneys, former White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino and his personal attorney Sheri Dillon, won’t be available to the House Oversight Committee. Cummings said that the two attorneys “may have provided false information” about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

Cohen has given the House Intelligence Committee documents about DDT’s secret deal-making with Russia over a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow and returned to testify. The documents show edits to the false written statement he submitted to Congress in 2017 made by DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, who encouraged Cohen to lie under oath. Cohen also claims that attorney Abbe Lowell, representing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, had also reviewed his 2017 statements to Congress. Sekulow denied that DDT’s lawyers had either reviewed or changed Cohen’s earlier testimony. Cohen’s earlier testimony already implicated DDT in at least 11 separate felonies:

Russia Conspiracy Case: Links to hacked Democratic emails stolen by Russian spies.

Lying to Mueller: Falsehoods in writing from DDT about his conversation with Roger Stone regarding the hacked emails.

Suborning Perjury: Orders to Cohen that he lie to Congress under oath about trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign and DDT’s personal lawyers who “reviewed and edited” Cohen’s congressional statement before submission, including the “length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive.”

Campaign Finance Violations: DDT’s directive to organize hush-money payments during the campaign with evidence from a check signed by DDT for reimbursement of payout to Stormy Daniels.

Election Fraud: Hush-money payments to silence women and conceal DDT’s affairs from the voters that thwarted a fair election.

Insurance Fraud: DDT’s false claims to insurance companies that inflated the size of his assets in a ploy to reduce his premiums. [Visual on desktop]

Witness Tampering: DDT’s threatening intimidation of Cohen to “persuade” him from testifying against DDT.

Bank Fraud: DDT’s inflation of personal wealth while trying to borrow money from Deutsche Bank in a failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014. (Cohen said that DDT almost doubled his statement of finances by claiming that putting his name on anything is worth $4 billion.)

Tax Fraud: DDT’s deflation of “assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” for example claiming that he claimed, for tax purposes, that the National Golf Club Jupiter in Florida was worth “no more than $5 million” when he valued it at over $50 million on his financial disclosure forms. (The New York Times’ investigation found DDT “participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.”

Financial Disclosure: The conspiracy of false accounting entries of the Trump Organization by DDT’s failure to disclose his debt to Cohen for making the hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, probably to conceal the reimbursement.

Misusing Charitable Funds: DDT’s use of his charity’s money to buy a painting of himself after driving up the bid and then keeping the painting.

And More Undisclosed Crimes: Criminal allegations from prosecutors for the Southern District of New York about additional lines of investigation.

The New York attorney general’s office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for financing records connected to four of DDT’s business projects in Washington, DC, Chicago, and outside as well as failure to buy the NFL Buffalo Bills in 2014. Michael Cohen, DDT’s former fixer, has suggested that DDT illegally inflated and deflated his personal wealth for gain. In 2011 and 2012, for example, DDT’s debt load may have seemed smaller on his Statements of Financial Condition because he omitted a Chicago hotel with a high debt. Fraud against financial institutions is fraudulent and one of the convictions for Paul Manafort and part of Cohen’s prison term.

Democrats in the House continued to terrify DDT, recently with the hire of a former Manhattan prosecutor who specialized in Russian organized crime. Daniel Goldman will be working for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) who is coordinating with House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) to investigate DDT’s relationship with Deutsche Bank which has paid multimillion-dollar penalties for working with Russian money launderers.

Some current House inquiries and requested sources for testimonies:

Campaign finance from illegal donations: Michael Cohen

Russian interference in the 2016 election and collusion with DDT’s campaign: Felix Sater (DDT’s Russian born business partner the mafia ties)

Family separation of migrants on the southern border from DHS’s “zero tolerance” policy: Kirstjen Nielsen (DHS Secretary), Bill Barr (AG), and Alex Azar (HHS)

Obstruction of justice: Donald Trump Jr. and 80 others

Security clearances: White House

Shutdown and its affect on the Coast Guard, Indian Country, damage to public lands, and delayed back pay

DDT’s tax returns: Steve Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary)

Trump Organization, including possible money laundering, mismanagement of charitable funds, and revenue from its DC hotel violating the Constitution

Ethics violations such as activities by former EPA director Scott Pruitt, HHS Tom Price, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as well as current expenditures

Census attempt to add a citizen question: Wilbur Ross, who committed perjury but no Republican called him a liar

Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Don Beyer Jr. (D-VA) have also referred Jared Kushner to the DOJ for investigation because of his false statements on security clearance applications and in public interviews.

The Senate is also looking into DDT’s security clearances. After discovering that DDT overruled security clearances about 30 times, Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are introducing the Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act to stop this abuse. Among the 30 are the clearances DDT gave to daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner after they failed FBI checks but politically retaliated against former CIA John Brennan by removing his clearance because Brennan criticized him.

The House must be doing the right things. Fox network, the same one that squashed the story about the Stormy Daniels affair before the 2016 election, is pushing to get rid of five of these investigations.

As Rafi Schwartz wrote, “It says a lot about the state of the country when the President of the United States can make a laudatory, if oblique, reference to having fascist goon squads commit violence on his behalf, and it’s not the biggest headline of the day.”

October 20, 2018

GOP, DDT Try to Pull Cons

As midterm election fever ramps up, the Republicans become more desperate with the thought of losing. Because over half the population supports the Affordable Care Act, GOP candidates and their leader Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have decided to pretend that they support coverage of pre-existing conditions on all health insurance.

Last Thursday, DDT tweeted:

“All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them. I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!”

These GOP candidates claiming to supported coverage of pre-existing conditions voted against the Affordable Care Act, and some of them are involved in legal challenges to the law. With his executive order to change the ACA, DDT already permitted insurance companies to not allow pre-existing conditions. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that the GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act after the midterms and reduce Medicare to cover ballooning deficits from deep tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. The underlying GOP goal is to strip almost everyone in the United States of any safety net while taking all power and giving the nation’s resources to the wealthiest and big business.

In another serious problem for DDT, the horrific scandal of a reporter’s murder in Turkey won’t disappear. Saudi Arabia commonly kills dissidents, but the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is unique: he was a U.S. resident who was tortured, dismembered, and murdered in an embassy on foreign soil. DDT is also supporting Saudi Arabia in its fantasy explanation of the murder, appearing to act as a PR person for the Saudi royalty. Vali R. Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said:

“This is a drastic break from American practice. It signals a very different foreign policy that does not hold governments accountable for things that are outside normal legal or ethical parameters. In effect, the U.S. is setting a new standard for itself.”

Vladimir Putin is well aware of the new standard for the U.S. that represents a double standard—punish Russia for its killing of a Russian but reward Saudi Arabia for its killing of a U.S. resident. DDT has been very clear, however, that he won’t hold foreign countries accountable for human rights, and now that lack of concern impacts a murdered U.S. resident with three U.S. citizen children. Not addressing Khashoggi’s murder removes the U.S. from the high ground when China tells the West to stop its false regard for human rights.

In addition to taking Saudi’s assurance that Khashoggi’s death came from a “fist-fight,” DDT is accepting Putin’s guarantee that Russia didn’t interfere in U.S. elections and Kim Jong-Un’s pledge that North Korea will denuclearize. Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the U.S. policy of “trust but verify” has been changed to “trust but look away.”

Conservative commentator Max Book wrote about DDT:

“This is the president who said it’s “great” that Xi is declaring himself ruler for life, praised Duterte for the ‘unbelievable job’ he was doing ‘on the drug problem,’ congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning a rigged referendum that spelled the death of Turkish democracy, and declared his ‘love’ for Kim Jong Un of North Korea. When confronted by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes about Kim’s catalogue of crime — ‘repression, gulags, starvation’ — Trump was dismissive. ‘I get along with him really well,’ Trump said. ‘I have a good energy with him.’ He was equally blasé when Stahl asked him about reports that Putin is involved in ‘assassinations’ and ‘poisonings.’ He probably is, Trump conceded — but ‘it’s not in our country,’ so who cares? Britain can deal with Russian hit teams on its own.”

Boot concluded:

“This is a good time to be a dictator — and a dangerous time to be a dissident. Trump has given every despot on the planet a license to kill without worrying about the American reaction.”

Saudi Arabia has been paying for positive PR in the U.S. since 15 of 19 plane hijackers in the attack on the U.S. were Saudi nationals, but the amount of money poured into its effort escalated in 2017 to $27.3 million in lobbying alone after DDT’s inauguration to $27.3 million in lobbying alone. More money was given to universities, think tanks, and over 100 people registered as Saudi foreign agents in the U.S. who contacted media outlets over 500 times. The Saudis also had 45 contracts with FARA-registered firms. Agents contacted officials at the State Department almost 100 times in 2017 and over 200 congressional members with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) the most contacted. These congressional members received $390,496 for campaigns. In 2018, Saudi lobbyists fought to defeat a House bill that would end U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen, asking them to ignore the 10,000 civilians who were killed in Yemen.

DDT has been very upfront about how he is selling himself and the U.S. to gain money from the Saudis. And he has the blessing of fundamentalist Christians. Televangelist Pat Robertson wants people to “cool” it about the torture, dismemberment, and killing of Jamal Khashoggi because he’s just “one journalist.” What would Jesus do, according to Robertson? Profit from that probably nonexistant $100 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia so that they can kill thousands more civilians.

One reason that people voted for DDT was their belief that he is a great businessman. The New York Time researched proved that claim to be a myth, but he’s still bragging about his wonderful economy. Despite his cheerleading, cracks are appearing—the lowest housing sales in three years, retail sales down for the past two years, a volatile stock market, an increase in trade market deficits—some of the same signs that led to the deep recession of 2008, especially the falling housing prices that were the first evidence. George W. Bush failed to see the warning signs in 2006, just as DDT’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow thinks that the U.S. is booming. A few months before everyone became well aware of the 2008 recession, Kudlow said, “There is no recession coming.” Four months later, he wrote “The Therapeutic Power of Recessions.”

That recession didn’t have the problem of tariffs. A trade war with the U.S. already prompted luxury-car makers BMW AG and Daimler AG to warn about lower profits while Chinese consumers staying away from showrooms forced Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily shut a factory. Sales to Chinese dealerships fell for a third month in September. Steve Man, senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong, said that this slump may be the biggest that auto manufacturers experienced in China, the world’s largest car market. GM, VW, and Honda are also decreasing in deliveries, and carmakers may have to close factories.

DDT promised to balance the budget in one year. He didn’t. The deficit blew up to $898 billion in the 11 months through August, exceeding the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast for the first full fiscal year after DDT was inaugurated. DDT’s deficit for the 11 months was one-third higher than the $674 billion for the same time during the previous year. While revenue gained one percent to about $3 trillion, spending rose by seven percent to almost $3.9 trillion. Thanks to the new COP tax cut law, revenue from corporations dropped $71 billion from a year before to $163 billion. The annual budget for President Obama’s last three years was $500 billion. Thanks to the GOP and DDT’s law and policies, the nation’s debt is growing out of control.

DDT’s family con jobs seem to have trickled down to son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has paid almost no income tax from 2009 to 2016 while quintupling his assets to almost $324 million. For example, in 2015, he made $1.7 million but declared $8.3 million in losses from his self-identified “significant depreciation” on real estate because the law allows scams with decline values on the books as properties appreciate. DDT, however, participated in illegal fraud to hide his and his family’s fortune from taxes.

DDT is so unpopular that the Trump name has been removed from a seventh building since DDT’s election, this one a condo tower at 200 Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan. Almost 70 percent of owners voted to take down the name after they were threatened with legal action 18 months ago when they made the decision. A judge ruled that the signage could go that’s what the residents wanted.

The Trump Ocean Club Panama also ripped DDT’s name off its sign after it evicted the Trump Organization. Ivanka Trump had lied about the number of units sold although the involvement of shell companies created difficulty in identifying why buyers had backed out. DDT’s family made millions on just this one project, an example of their system to lure investors into building projects and then walk away with the money when the projects collapse.

With his gullible base, DDT treats the United States like one of his scams, but most of us have no solution when he takes the money and leaves us bankrupt. And Congress will let DDT carry out his plans unless the electorate stops the GOP from controlling Congress. During the past half centuries, all the recessions have occurred while the president was a Republican with a supportive Congress.

October 7, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-seven – Raking Up Big Numbers

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can now take credit for the deadliest massacre in modern U.S. history—59 59 dead and at least 527 people in Las Vegas this week. These are the “secret” White House talking points in an effort to stop any talk about common sense gun laws, as indicated in a leak: pray and monitor; wait for any “political debate” until facts are known; protect the people through the Second Amendment; can’t stop a “mad man” with “new laws” because “they will curtail the freedoms of law-abiding citizens; don’t need guns for terrorist attacks; allow people to protect themselves with concealed carry; and don’t “rush toward compromising our freedoms before we have all the facts.” In other words, legislative business as usual—tax cuts!

Another leak this week that hit the comedy routines was DDT’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling DDT a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting last July. Tillerson was forced  to call DDT “smart” in a press conference, but he didn’t deny that he used that term for DDT. The comment was made after DDT’s appearance at the Boy Scouts Jamboree; Tillerson was its leader from 2010 to 2012.

Tillerson has also been frustrated because DDT’s publicly undermines him, for example, the dispute when Middle Eastern countries blockaded Qatar, sanctions on Venezuela, aid to Israel, and, most recently, DDT’s tweet that Tillerson should not negotiate with North Korea. The day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached out to North Korea for talks, DDT tweeted that he was “wasting his time” and “we’ll do what has to be done!”  Just 37 percent trust Trump to responsibly handle the North Korea standoff.

In opposition to Tillerson, DDT indicated that he will back out of the Iranian agreement, leaving them free to develop nuclear weapons. The Nobel Committee cited this as one reason to award its Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its efforts in advancing negotiations leading to the first treaty to prohibit nuclear arms. The world’s nine nuclear-armed powers and their allies—including the United States—boycotted the negotiations, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis threatened Sweden with retribution if the country supported the treaty. Fifty-three UN member states signed the treaty, and three of them have formally ratified it since the process started on September 20.

Tillerson has formed a “pact” with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Treasury that all three will resign if DDT fires one of them.

DDT did get to Puerto Rico almost two weeks after Maria was the second hurricane to hit the island, stayed in populated areas, and left an hour early. [Right: DDT shows a different kind of “compassion” to hurricane victims.]

While there, DDT:

  • Refused to mention or communicate with the mayor of San Juan;
  • Complained about the cost of the two hurricanes’ damage while saying how happy he is to spend “hundreds of millions” on the F-35, a plane has never flown a mission and “you can’t see” (according to DDT);
  • Said that Puerto Rico was not a “real catastrophe like Katrina;
  • Ignored the devastation on the island;
  • Threw rolls of paper towels into a crowd of survivors in a church, perhaps appearing to “distribute” supplies;
  • Praised the place for its beautiful weather;
  • Told hurricane victims to “have a good time”;
  • Said he was doing an “A+” job.

DDT has not yet submitted a request for aid to Puerto Rico. As he bragged about the wonderful response to the disaster, over half the people have no clean drinking water, and 95 percent of them have no electricity. DDT handed out flashlights but said that the people didn’t need them. Only one of the island’s 69 hospitals is fully operational, 59 of the 69 hospitals are operating on generators. Local officials talked about the lack of assistance. The mayor in a city of 54,000 said that they had received 10,000 meals, and one woman in the city said she had seen no supplies except for a case of water after 11 days. DDT waited ten days to waive the requirement that food stamps be used only in grocery stores despite the inability of these facilities to process the stamps.

After he returned from Puerto Rico, DDT said that he might wipe out the territory’s $72 billion debt, mostly held in huge hedge funds, but his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said, “We’re absolutely not going to bail them out.” As the U.S. seems incapable of helping Puerto Rico, Germany is donating 15 microgrids around the island for power emergency centers that combine solar panels and batteries.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley voted no for a resolution calling on countries to not use the death penalty for discrimination in cases of consensual adultery and same-gender relations. Twenty-seven countries supported the resolution while the U.S. was one of 13 countries, primarily those in the Middle East and Asia, that opposed it. Seven countries abstained. Former UN Ambassador Susan Rice tweeted about the vote, “Not even Russia and Iran stooped as low as we did.” The U.S. does use the death penalty as discrimination against minorities, women, and poor people.

The congressional conclusion that Russian attempted to hack into U.S. voting machines and influenced U.S. voters through social media has been followed by DDT’s request that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate the U.S. press. DDT’s constant attacks on the media as “fake news” has a benefit for the media. The 48 percent of people who have confidence in the press is up nine percent since last November whereas the same 48 percent having a measure of faith in DDT is down three percent.

Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is also being investigated for his reassignment of Joel Clement after Clement showed how climate change affects Alaska’ Native communities. An earlier probe came from his threats to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in an attempt to get her vote for the health care bill.

Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr. are in the hot seat with their emails, including publicity about how they barely evaded indictment on felony fraud charges in 2012 regarding their failed project, Trump SoHo, but donations to a campaign saved them. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. made prosecutors drop the case after DDT’s attorney Marc Kasowitz gave $25,000 to the DA’s reelection campaign with another $50,000 from DDT and other donors later on.

The use of official emails on Ivanka’s and Don Jr.’s personal accounts may have compromised national security:

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have shared official White House materials on the Kushner family’s private domain, in a third private account recently discovered. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts, one of these people said. Kushner set up ijkfamily.com when he joined DDT’s administration.

Apps on Kushner’s and Ivanka’s private email automatically deleted communications for official matters, an illegal action that other of DDT’s White House officials have also taken.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to White House counsel last week requesting more information about the White House staff use of private email addresses for official business, including disappearing message apps.

Both Kushner and Ivanka moved their email accounts to Trump Organization after the letter stating that the records not be destroyed, modified, or transferred. Cummings pointed out that their action also violates their pledge to not be a part of Trump Organization.

https://www.mediaite.com/online/rachel-maddow-reports-that-secret-service-is-banning-mobile-devices-from-west-wing/  More problems arose after it was discovered that the cell phone of John Kelly, former National Security Advisor and current chief of staff, was compromised with the establishment of new guidelines. Personal mobile devices—including tablets, cell phones, and smart watches—are to be prohibited from the West Wing. The question is whether DDT’s cell phone is part of this ban.

ACLU immediately filed a lawsuit against the government after AG Jeff Sessions announced that businesses and organizations can use religious belief or “moral conviction” to avoid providing free birth control on its insurance plans. A majority of people, even Republicans, disagree with DDT. The same excuse can also be used to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

The ACLU is also suing to lift unreasonable FDA restrictions on Mifeprex, a safe and effective method of ending an early pregnancy up to 10 weeks, from pharmacies.

DDT may also be able to take credit for the worst hurricane destruction of any president. The fourth major storm to hit the U.S. in less than nine months has killed 30 people in Central America and has now hit the Louisiana coast. Nate, the fourth major storm to strike the United States in less than two months, killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the US South. Over 40 percent of the Gulf’s staffed oil- and gas-producing platforms were evacuated. The storm, now a Category One, still has winds of about 100 mph and possible storm surges of 10 feet but should weaken on land. It may be the worst hurricane in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005.

August 6, 2016

AARP Leaves ALEC; Trump Watch

Email petitions can be a nuisance for people, but there are good reasons that people who want to live in a democracy should pay attention. A week ago, a petition alerted millions of people about AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired People, being a dues-paying member of ALEC. AARP members were sending money to the right-wing Koch-founded American Legislative Exchange Council in which big corporations write legislation for conservatives legislators to restrict women’s rights, voting, and other civil liberties vital to an open, vibrant society.

ALEC wants to reduce, privatize, and perhaps even eliminate Social Security and Medicare as well as eradicate all pensions and any caps on prescription drugs. LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik wrote:

 “ALEC has pushed for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has saved Medicare enrollees millions of dollars by closing the Medicare drug benefit ‘donut hole’…It has opposed Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. It has targeted public pensions, pushing to cap benefits and shift workers toward defined contribution plans, which layer more market risk on individual workers’ shoulders.”

A massive protest resulted in this post on AARP’s Facebook page:

“After hearing from many of you, we’ve decided not to renew our membership to ALEC. We would never work against the interests of older Americans and our engagement with ALEC was NOT an endorsement of the organization’s policies, but an opportunity to engage with state legislators and advance our members’ priorities.”

Earlier this year, AARP drew criticism because of its neutrality in Social Security reform. Its “Take a Stand” initiative asked members to get presidential candidates to explain their policies in closing a long-term funding shortfall but didn’t “take a stand” on plans that cut benefits and those that do not.

AARP’s excuse for joining ALEC was to engage with conservative state legislators, but a powerful public interest with over 37 million members can find other ways. After consumer protests, at least 19 nonprofits and 108 corporations—including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and Coca-Cola—dropped their ALEC memberships, especially after the ALEC promoted Stand Your Ground legislation that led to the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012. Google left ALEC in 2014 because of the group’s policy of “literally just lying” in denying climate change by opposing the Clean Power Plan.

AARP was forced to back down in one week by the grassroots campaign. AARP made its decision to disconnect from ALEC despite the push from huge companies in ALEC to keep AARP. The Center for Media and Democracy wrote, “The corporate bill mill had urged its members to call AARP and tell them to ‘remain strong.’”

Several groups joined CMD urged AARP to sever ties with ALEC:

“We are calling on AARP to withdraw all support for ALEC, a group that has consistently promoted policies that hurt seniors. By partnering with ALEC, you have allowed it to use the powerful AARP brand to lend credibility to legislation harmful to seniors that is introduced in statehouses across the country. ALEC has been at the forefront of protecting drug companies and their ability to charge unreasonable prices, has been a strong advocate against the Affordable Care Act and has opposed Medicaid expansion, forcing lower-income retirees to make terrible choices between paying medical bills and buying groceries. ALEC pushed voter ID laws that make it harder, not easier for seniors and people of color to vote. ALEC also blocks action on climate change, causing irreparable harm to the world we will leave our children and grandchildren.”

Mike Pence, GOP vice-presidential candidate, is an evangelist for ALEC, promising them at their meeting last weekend that “you are the model for Washington, D.C., after this election.” No stranger to ALEC, his focus has been to replace all public schools with corporate charter schools, an especially failed experiment in his state of Indiana shown by almost half of the state’s charter schools doing poorly or failing with the state’s new accountability standards. The law requires six consecutive years of failure before the state acts on behalf of the students. Many of the problems of these schools are cited here. Conservatives love charter schools because huge corporations massively profit from the money given to schools by government.

AARP dropped its membership to ALEC is just one week of complaints from thousands of people. Your voice can make a difference. Pay attention to those petitions you get in your email.

Trump Watch: “A lot of times, when you apologize, they use it as ammunition against [you].” That’s always been Donald Trump’s position, but last night he gave people a lot of ammunition, for example backtracking with his endorsements of GOP candidates Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and John McCain (R-AZ). Until yesterday, Trump had played the tease game with Ryan and glowingly talked about his opponent, Paul Nehlen, an unabashed Trump supporter. Last night he endorsed Ryan:

“He’s a good man, and he’s a good guy. And we may disagree on a couple of things, but mostly we agree.”

About Ayotte, facing a rough fight against Gov. Maggie Hassam, Trump had earlier said that he’s “beating her the polls” and asked “are these people that should be representing us?” Last night, Trump called her “a rising star” who does a good job for New Hampshire.

Trump saved his best words for McCain after a year of calling him a “loser” for being captured and tortured as a POW in Vietnam. Trump had also said that McCain did a “bad job” for veterans:

“I hold in the highest esteem Sen. John McCain for his service to our country in uniform and in public office, and I fully support and endorse his reelection. Very important.”

Running neck and neck with Clinton before the Democratic convention, Trump fell as much as 15 points behind after he followed the attack on the family of a fallen soldier in Iraq with many more “mis-steps,” the polite term for total screw-ups. Things got so bad that former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gringrich—both total screw-ups—were threatening an intervention with Trump.

Trump lost the Wisconsin primary to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) which might explain the tepid applause. Or that may have been that he delivered a “low-energy” speech read from teleprompters.

In addition to his other backtracking, Trump also told an audience that he was wrong about seeing video footage of stacks of cash being taken off an airplane. He also falsely claimed that the U.S. was paying ransom for U.S. hostages instead of paying back money that the U.S. had owed Iran for 37 years because the U.S. reneged on a deal.

In another part of Trump’s speech, he downplayed his rude treatment of a parent with a crying baby and accused the media of being dishonest. Unfortunately for the truth, a video of his tantrum exists, showing that the person wanting to be a president can’t handle a crying baby.

Cameron Kerr, a Purple Heart recipient who lost a leg in Afghanistan, is raising money to help Trump earn a Purple Heart after another veteran gave him one this past week. Trump said, “I’ve always wanted to get a Purple Heart. This was much easier.” Kerr wants Trump to get another Purple Heart—“the old-fashioned way” by earning it. Kerr said the money would be used to fly Trump into a war zone of Trump’s choosing but knows that Trump will not take him up on his offer. Instead the donations to the GoFundMe campaign will be used to help Syrian refugees because “they are much better people than Donald Trump.”

Trying to get media attention away from his gaffes and support for Russia, Trump announced a 13-member economic advisory council—“the most successful industry leaders in finance, real estate, and technology, according to Trump. His selections are notable because they are all wealthy men—many of them real-estate investors, hedge-fund managers, and bankers. They are a Wall Street dream machine—a batch of fraudsters like Trump who specialize in disaster financing, taking advantage of people who suffer losses.

Asked about female cabinet members, he could only think of his daughter Ivanka. At a loss, Trump finally told his interviewer, Algelia Savage who hosts The Chat on Florida’s First Coast News,  that he would pick her for his cabinet.

The GOP presidential candidate has a powerful ally in Julian Assange, responsible for damaging email leaks about Clinton—most recently the ones from the Democratic National Committee. Assange has promised more damaging information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign but nothing about Trump. Bill Maher asked him about his approach, and Assange said that he is “working on” hacking Trump’s tax returns that the candidate refuses to release. WikiLeaks has since disavowed the statement saying that Assange’s statement was a joke. Assange did the interview from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he is fleeing extradition on rape and sexual assault allegations in Sweden.

Trump’s latest business failure is the indefinite closure of his Taj Mahal and Casino after Labor Day with a loss of 3,000 jobs. In 2014, a court for one of Trump’s four bankruptcies ruled the elimination of union members’ health insurance and pension plans, but the union wasn’t responsible for the financial problems as revealed three months later. The hotel failed to get state and local tax breaks and was also fined $10 million for “significant and long-standing money laundering violations.” After 18 months, the unions went on strike to protest the injustices, but Trump is no longer involved because he dumped the hotel onto personal friend multi-billionaire Carl Icahn—possibly Trump’s Treasury Secretary if the GOP candidate is elected.

The Trump Watch will continue in the future.

September 12, 2015

Too Many Charter Schools for Profit Only

Filed under: Education — trp2011 @ 10:05 PM
Tags: , , , ,

In his push toward replacing all public schools with privately-managed, public-funded charter schools, Jeb Bush has become the sugar daddy of big business that makes big money off depriving young people of an education. The GOP presidential candidate opened the first charter school in the state when he was governor and increased it 56 percent annually during his first administration. By the time that he left office in 2007, the number had grown from 30 to 300 and since doubled to over 600. There would be more, but poor planning and management has caused the closure of another 308 schools so far this year. His first school closed in 2008.

Jeb Bush got the charter school ball rolling by maintaining that they would save students from failed public schools. By 2009, he sang another song—that charter schools are “a great opportunity… a half billion dollar opportunity.” Investors immediately showed interest in the lucrative possibilities. Bush has kept lobbying for these schools: almost all the classrooms with happy children in his campaign videos “are at schools operated by Academica, [Florida’s] largest for-profit charter school management company,” according to BuzzFeed reporter Molly Hensley-Clancy.

Academica has almost 100 schools in Florida and over $150 million in annual revenue along with being the subject of “an ongoing federal probe into its real estate dealings,” as reported by the Miami Herald in 2014. Charter schools must be overseen by a non-profit board of directors, but corporations make their money from everything else—payroll operations, food services contracting, textbook sales—as well as hiring personnel and controlling curriculum.

Another way that companies like Academica make profits is state grants, loans, and tax credits for building the school before charging the school district massive rents and leases to use the buildings. Charter Schools USA charged one school $2 million rent, 23 percent of its budget. Charter companies also get the profits if they sell the buildings to another entity. Within the last two years, only charter schools received capital outlay for new construction, and charter school companies are now going after local property taxes.

Although Florida districts traditionally decide when and where a new school is needed, charter schools can open up at the company’s volition without permission from a school district. Laurie Rich Levinson, a school board representative, said, “We must approve them even when we don’t know where exactly they’ll be located,” she says. Charter schools are also not subject to traffic restrictions, building codes, and other regulations mandated for other businesses and institutions.

Companies closing charter schools also punish communities through charges. When local officials in Florida tried to get $400,000 back from two closed schools, the companies had either moved the funds or had them frozen by liens. The Sun Sentinel reported, “County schools may have to repay $1.8 million owed by two closed charter schools.” The schools didn’t keep accurate counts of enrolled students; therefore money already collected will be withheld from future payments to the district.

Florida is not alone in its problems with charter schools. Claims that charter schools provide superior education have been debunked in other states. A report on Pennsylvania’s charters a year ago indicated that only one in six of these schools is “high-performing” and none of the online ones is “high-performing.” Charter schools weed out students based on characteristics such as those with special needs and low test scores. In many cases, English learners and children in poverty need not apply. The result is higher segregation in schools.

In many charter schools, cost-cutting curriculum limits students to little more than reading and mathematics test preparation, inexperienced teachers with high turnover, and products that line the pockets of board members. At the same time, the schools are used as cash cows.

Publicly-funded charter schools act like private entities, denying such basic information as salaries. In 2012, Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett and the GOP-controlled legislature tried to introduce a bill that exempted all charters from the state’s sunshine laws. Companies have argued in California courts that they are private entities and cannot be treated as public institutions.

The drain on real public schools is tremendous. For example, charter tuition payments cost Pittsburgh $53 million in just one year. In order to make more money for their companies, charter corporations are working to close traditional public schools. Pennsylvania forced districts to approve new charters while slashing the budget and closing more schools.

Big donors for John Kasich during his 2014 run for Ohio governor were charter school operators and companies. He vowed to clean up charter schools after cutting money from public schools and to show how well the charters were doing with a public site to compare their performance with public schools. The upgrading of charter facilities and increase in their budgets cost Ohioans well over one billion dollars so far this year while public schools lost one-half billion dollars. Last month, David Hansen, state director of school choice, resigned after he admitted charter schools looked much better because he omitted poor grades for online and dropout-recovery schools. Kasich probably won’t be talking much about charter schools on the campaign trail.

One state has declared that giving public school funds to charter schools is unconstitutional. Washington state Supreme Court spent almost a year of deliberation before he overturned a narrowly-passed ballot measure in 2012 allowing publicly-funded, privately-operated schools. Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote that charter schools aren’t “common schools” because they’re governed by appointed rather than elected boards. Therefore, “money that is dedicated to common schools is unconstitutionally diverted to charter schools,” she wrote. A coalition filing the suit asked for this ruling because these schools are “improperly diverting public-school funds to private organizations that are not subject to local voter control.” The nine schools planning to open this fall will not close but instead plan to rely on private funding.

In 1992, democratic socialist Sweden began distributing vouchers to parents to send their children to any school, private or public. Companies were permitted to operate for-profit schools, and private equity firms ran hundreds of schools. The result:

  • Test scores fell consistently starting in 1995.
  • Social stratification and ethnic and immigrant segregation increased.
  • Better teachers went to schools with students of higher socio-economic status.
  • One of the biggest private education firms declared bankruptcy in 2013. About 1,000 people lost their jobs, and the company’s unpaid debt is about $150 million.
  • A convicted pedophile legally set up several schools.
  • The system found no impact on medium or long-term educational outcomes such as high school GPA, university attainment or years of schooling.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that 2,486 U.S. charter schools closed between 2001 and 2013. [Check here for an interactive map of these closures.] Charter school students are two and a half times at risk of having their school closed, causing a disruption in their education and decreasing high school graduation rates by almost 10 percent.

Unknown millions of dollars of the $3.3 billion spent by the federal government went to schools that never opened to students. The Center for Popular Democracy documented more than $200 million in fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the charter school industry in 15 states alone. Wisconsin was given $69.6 million between 2010 and 2015, but one-fifth of the charters opened in the first two years of grants have closed. Indiana was given $31.3 million because the schools are exempt from democratic oversight by elected school boards.

Failed charter schools may cost about $1.4 billion in 2015. This waste hasn’t stopped the Department of Education. Secretary Arne Duncan asked for a 48-percent expansion of the program and refuses to release any information about grants or their applicants.

Fraud, lack of transparency, lower achievement—these are a few of the problems in many states that allow these schools to be controlled by profiteers. People in every state should look into laws for charter schools to make sure that they don’t have the same problem.

April 24, 2015

Campaign Donations – A Murky World

The media is filled with the almost two dozen potential GOP presidential candidates for 2016. Scott Walker is the Koch’s pick–no, they changed their mind and want Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush is leading–no, he’s two points behind Rubio. Hillary Clinton is guilty of fraud–or maybe not. And that’s just in the last few days.

In Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, Peter Schweizer, a Republican researcher, reveals his personal perception of the  correlation between foreign government donations to the Clinton Foundation with favorable State Department decisions while Hillary Clinton was secretary. Although the book won’t be published until May 5, Schweizer has already confessed that he cannot prove his allegations because of his confusion between paid and unpaid appearances. He said that “the errors would be corrected” but didn’t say whether it would be before the publication. With a long history of sloppy research and reporting—even citing a hoax press release in the book—Schweizer admitted he cannot prove the allegations in the book.

“Short of someone involved coming forward to give sworn testimony, we don’t know what might or might not have been said in private conversations, the exact nature of the transition, or why people in power make the decision they do…. We cannot ultimately know what goes on in their minds and ultimately provide the links between the money they took and the benefits that subsequently accrued to themselves, their friends, and their associates.”

While the GOP pushes a possible scandal about Clinton, Jeb Bush’s financial arrangements are decimating the crumbling foundation of campaign limits. After collection tens of millions of dollars while “not-running” for president, he has announced that he will turn over his campaign’s primary functions to a super PAC that can have unlimited funding from unknown sources. The Right to Rise (interesting name!) PAC will not only provide advertising but also carry out duties usually from a campaign, including direct mail and get-out-the-vote drives.

At this time, contributions have three levels: beneficial donations to a candidate have legal caps; donations to a party may not reach the candidate that the donor desires; and super PACs cannot legally coordinate with specific candidates. In the past these PACs have sometimes run counter to the candidates’ wishes.

Jeb claims he can coordinate with his super PAC because he says he’s not even seriously considering a presidential run, using this time to plan future campaign strategy with the super PAC and participate in dozens of fundraisers. Jeb’s tactic may be found illegal. A provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 states that if Jeb—or any other candidate—has a direct or indirect involvement in “establishing, financing, maintaining or controlling” an outside entity—such as a super PAC—that entity cannot receive or spend contributions that exceed the limit on contributions to a federal PAC of $5,000 per donor per year. The provision includes any candidate’s proxies “acting on behalf” of the candidate.

When Jeb announced his federal leadership PAC, the Right to Rise PAC, his “allies” announced the supporting super PAC, the Right to Rise Super PAC. They sound like twins, but they’re actually triplets with the Right to Rise Policy Solutions, formed by a Bush friend and former staffer, that lets Jeb’s supporters make anonymous contributions. The likely leader for the super PAC after Jeb actually declares is Mike Murphy, Jeb’s longtime political confidant.

Although Jeb’s campaign spokesperson stated that he is not really candidate, that claim has been disputed. A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission at the end of March accused four presidential hopefuls of violating campaign-finance laws by building campaign infrastructure without formally “testing the waters” for a bid. The other three are GOP Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, and Democrat Martin O’Malley.

Senior counsel to Campaign Legal Center said:

“These 2016 presidential contenders must take the American people for fools — flying repeatedly to Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with party leaders and voters, hiring campaign staff and raising millions of dollars from deep-pocketed mega donors, all the while denying that they are even ‘testing the waters’ of a presidential campaign.”

The FEC has three categories: non-candidates, candidates who are “testing the waters,” and formally declared candidates. Those testing the waters can conduct polls, travel, and make calls about a potential run, but candidates who raise more than $5,000 or formally refer to themselves as candidates must register with the FEC and be subject to reporting and disclosure requirements.

Other candidates have strong connections with super PACs. One supporting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is run by his former campaign manager who is married to Paul’s niece. Another for Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is run by his former chief of staff and campaign manager for his 2010 gubernatorial campaign who is assisted by the campaign manager who ran Walker’s 2014 re-election race. Supporting super PAC for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is led by the co-founder of a political consulting firm with another political operative leading Rubio’s federal leadership PAC.

Early this year, the first criminal conviction for illegal coordination between a congressional campaign and a super PAC came down from the Justice Department after a campaign manager in Virginia pleaded guilty to coordinated campaign contributions and false statements. The DoJ stated:

“The Department of Justice is fully committed to addressing the threat posed to the integrity of federal primary and general elections by coordinated campaign contributions, and will aggressively pursue coordination offenses at every appropriate opportunity.”

Jeb has a history of controlling donations. While Florida governor, he shifted $150 million of pension funds toward his cousin, George Herbert Walker IV, at Goldman Sachs and at least another $1.7 billion of state workers’ retirement money to higher-risk, higher-fee investments at the financial firms that donated over $5 million to the campaign of older brother, George W. Bush.  Jeb is now reaping donations for Walker and other financial firms that received state business from Jeb’s administration.

Even conservatives such as columnist Kathleen Parker have serious doubts about the power of super PACS. In a column on “our corrupt campaign finance system,” she wrote, “There’s nothing free about paid-for elections—unless everybody knows where the money came from.” She expressed two concerns about massive shadow funding that bodes poorly for the GOP. One is the recent trend of large numbers of GOP presidential candidates, each with his or her own billionaire, who stay in an unwinnable race while tearing down an opponent who might have a better chance without the controversy about him that it causes, what Parker describes as “death by a thousand insults.”

Another issue is the “withering” of political parties, dooming “political comity.” To succeed, political parties have to agree within themselves whereas super PACs, unaccountable to no one, “form around extreme ideas” with anonymous donors. Even worse to Parker, the current system takes campaign control from the candidates. (She may have written this before Jeb Bush figured out a way around the problem.)

Parker is right about the destructiveness within the GOP. Talk show host Mark Levin attacked Karl Rove’s super PACs because it’s attacking Rand Paul in favor of Jeb Bush. Levin claimed that they are distorting Citizens United by attacking conservatives. Fox’s allowing Karl Rove to use his position to “clear the field” for Jeb is another Levin gripe. Levin called people like Rove “pretend conservatives, who are really on there with an agenda, and so they sit there, they pretend they’re analyzing…that to me is dishonest, it’s flat out dishonest.” He added, “I am trashing the fools like Karl Rove, who are taking advantage of their positions, pretending on the one hand that they’re analysts and on the other hand, they’re trying to defeat every conservative and clear the field for their Bush family candidate.” (Does the word “irony” come to mind?)

The disastrous Supreme Court rulings in Citizens United and its worse follow-up, McCutcheon v. FEC, have permitted almost unlimited donations for candidates. The first decision opened the donation floodgates; the second one ruled that government may restrict political contributions only to target quid pro quo corruption. This corruption is far more difficult to prove that the former criteria of “the general gratitude a candidate may feel toward those who support him or his allies, or the political access such support may afford.” As a result, 25,000 people made 40 percent of the donations to 2016 campaign funds, compared to the 16 percent of the contributions that came from the elite in 1980. With the advantage of McCutcheon and the high stakes for the 2016 election, the percentage will most likely go beyond 50 percent, giving 25,000 people a greater voice than the other 125 million donors in the United States.

donations chartSheldon Adelson gave over $100 million to 2012 political campaigns. Jeb Bush could give Adelson an estimated $139.7 million tax break by eliminating the federal capital gains tax. Cruz could give him $144.1 million, and Rick Perry could give $141.9 million. Scott Walker would be far more generous in shifting tax liability from the rich to working families. The Koch brothers plan to donate at least $1 billion in the current round. The wealthy look at their donations at merely an investment in future fortunes.

March 27, 2014

Who Are the Koch Brothers?

As the United States approaches the “oligarch” status of Russia and other quasi-dictatorships, people in the U.S. are learning our own billionaires who control the selection and decisions of the nation’s lawmakers. Fortunately, the Walton family that owns Walmart seems to stay out of politics as long as they don’t have to raise the wages. On the other hand, the Koch brothers (pronounced “Coke”) have gone full-bore into running the country. Only about half the likely voters know who they are, but half of these have an “unfavorable” view of Charles and David.

Charles, 78, lives near Koch HQ in Wichita (KS); David, 74, lives in New York. Together they run their inherited Koch Industries, the country’s second-largest private company with oil pipelines, refineries, building materials, paper towels, etc. Together they are worth over $80 billion, and David made $6 billion just last year. Buying these products will make the Koch brothers richer: Dixie cups, Brawny and Sparkle paper towels, Quilted Northern and Angel Soft toilet paper (all part of Georgia-Pacific); Lycra fiber, Stainmaster carpet.

The brothers learned their lessons early. Dad Fred was an early adviser to the founder of the anti- communist John Birch Society, which fought against the civil rights movement and the United Nations. Ten years ago, Charles and David funded the Tea Party with Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity (AF), extremist right-wing organizations able to provide “dark money” to campaigns around the country starting in 2010, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United. 

Koch’s AFP spent at least $120 million in the 2012 election cycle, and the brothers spend millions and millions in other campaigns. Exactly how much is not known because of Citizens United, but they pledged at least $60 million to defeat President Obama. Even the town of Iron (WI), population 6,000, doesn’t escape their notice. During a recent election, the brothers decided to get their personal county supervisors elected because they could influence a potential iron mine. Koch fliers told residents about “wealthy, environmental groups from outside of Wisconsin” and then listed the names that David and Charles, wealthy individuals from outside Wisconsin, call “anti-mining radicals.” Last year the brothers tried to buy a coal terminal in Whatcom (WA) by swinging a county election. They lost. Iron’s election is April 1.

Sen. Harry Reid said the Koch brothers were “actually trying to buy the country.” A Koch spokesman called Reid’s comments “disrespectful.” Tracking their expenditures has now become easier because of www.stinkstanks.org that follows how David and Charles use ALEC, the State Policy Network, and other supposedly think tanks that disseminates misinformation throughout the country and writes bills for every state. Everytime you hear a myth, think Koch. (Another website designed to “follow the money” is http://www.bridgeproject.com/.)

An example of the lies that the brothers and ALEC disseminated was a rosy view of jobs in Wisconsin to support their governor. This is the reality about the disaster of Walker’s policies that David and Charles won’t share.

walker job loss

Not happy with owning the country, David wants to purchase public radio and television. He has donated $18.6 million to WGBH in Boston and is a member of its Board of Trustees. A circulating petition requests that he be dismissed from the board to “ensure that public broadcasting remains independent from the influence of radical climate change denial.” History shows the danger is real.

Last spring, David got upset about a documentary on PBS showing him in a bad light and made sure than another one, the documentary  “Citizen Koch” about money in politics focused on the Wisconsin uprising against Gov. Scott Walker and other GOP lawmakers, wouldn’t be shown.  Afraid of losing private funding, PBS pulled the program showing how the Supreme Court decision allowed wealthy conservatives to contribute to Walker’s election.

When David was also a trustee of New York’s PBS station WNET, he was offended by “Park Avenue,” a documentary that showed income inequality by comparing the lives of people in a luxury apartment building in Manhattan and those living in the Bronx at the other end of Park Avenue. WNET’s president called David before the documentary’s airing and then included David’s disclaimer that the film was “disappointing and divisive.” The station also pulled the film’s introduction narrated by Stanley Tucci with one that called the film “controversial” and “provocative.” The documentary “Park Avenue” was shown with these caveats.

WNET threatened Independent Television Service (ITVS), an arm of PBS that funds and distributes independent films, with dropping all its films if it funded “Citizen Koch.” The documentary did get a showing at Sundance a year ago, but ITVS bowed out of any funding. As the filmmakers said, “It’s the very thing our film is about—public servants bowing to pressures, direct or indirect, from high-dollar donors.”

Only 5 percent of funding for “public” radio and television come from taxes. When conservatives fill in the 95-percent gap, they control the “public” network’s content.  I became a constant public radio fan after moving to the Oregon coast over 20 years ago and have watched the coverage becoming more and more conservative as only that side is represented.

David has resigned from WNET’s board and tried to buy eight major daily newspapers across the country owned by the Tribune Companies. Enough people knew about David and Charles to sign petitions in opposition to selling them major news media.

One of David’s goals is to convince the people of the United States “that the abundant evidence linking industrial carbon pollution to changes in the earth’s climate is somehow fictional, made-up, unverified,” according to Huffington Post blogger D.R. Tucker. In the past 15 years, David and Charles have been convicted five times for their rejection of environmental regulations and fined over $400.  A Texas verdict of $296 million, the largest damages judgment against a corporation for wrongful death, came from negligence leading to an explosion from a butane pipeline rupture that killed two teenagers.

Fifteen years ago, a civil jury found that they had illegally taken oil from federal land, and the brothers have sold millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran, identified as a sponsor of global terrorism. With their new financial interest in Canadian’s tar sands oil fields, they stand to make $100 billion if the Keystone XL pipeline crosses the board to send oil to Asia.

David ran for vice president for the Libertarian party in 1980, pledging to abolish Social Security, the Federal Reserve System, welfare, minimum wage laws, and federal agencies–including the Department of Energy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. They’ve added health care for the poor to the list of things that they want to eliminate, using actors claiming to have their insurance cancelled in Koch anti-Obamacare television ads.

The brothers employ the Koch Method, a system of cheating, lying, and fraud that they have also taught their employees. For years after the conception of the Tea Party a decade ago, the brothers denied any connection to the movement and denied that their wealth funded front groups such as Americans for Prosperity (AFP). David said that he’d never been to a tea-party event, but film footage showed him at a gala, listening to the political strategy. Koch Industries denied funding and leadership links to the Tea Party at that time, but Jane Mayer verified the connections in The New Yorker.

David is much more visible than Charles, but the older brother said in a recent interview that he is trying to save the country. He’s worried about “this rampant cronyism where all these large companies are into smash and grab.” Worth over $40 billion, he claims he’s looking out for the little guy and worried about “welfare for the rich.” He added, “People should only profit to the extent they make other people’s lives better.” This is the man who makes enough money in one second to feed a person for an entire year.

Here’s a handy-dandy overview of David and Charles from David Halperin.

koch-bros-climate

December 6, 2011

Arpaio ‘Apologizes’ for Not Investigating Child Molestations

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio has apologized to victims (“if there are any,” he added) for his office’s botched investigations of hundreds of sex-crimes cases between 2005 and 2007. Sorry Sheriff Joe–it’s a matter of “too little, too late.” According to Arpaio’s office, they have reopened 432 sex-crimes investigations from El Mirage and other parts of  Maricopa County because alleged child molestations and rapes weren’t adequately investigated—or sometimes not worked at all—during that time period even when the suspects were known.

Arpaio is self-identified as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and a conservative hero that has hosted Republican presidential candidates.

Nobody in the sheriff’s office is explaining why these cases were not investigated except to say, “There are policy violations that have occurred here.” There were no follow-up reports, no collection of additional forensic evidence, and no efforts after the initial report of the crime was taken–a lot of “policy violations.”

Now it’s too late. A police official in El Mirage, a town contracting Arpaio’s department’s services for $2.7 million during the three-year period in question, said that many of the affected parties have left town and much of the evidence has gone cold or was never even collected.

Bill Louis, then-assistant El Mirage police chief who reviewed the files after the sheriff’s contract ended, believes the decision to ignore the cases was made deliberately by supervisors in Arpaio’s office—and not by individual investigators. He thinks that the decision-maker knows that illegal immigrants, often transient and afraid of the police, are unlikely to complain about the quality of investigations. According to Louis, some cases involved families who live in Arizona legally.

A few officers during that time were employed by El Mirage, but Arpaio brought in patrol officers and detectives and managers who ran the department. The Associated Press found they followed a pattern of sex-crimes not investigated after the crimes were reported to Arpaio’s office after AP obtained police records through public records requests.

Here are some of the important things that Arpaio was doing from 2005 through 2007:

Investing taxpayer dollars in brand-new fluorescent pink handcuffs for jail inmates to promote his book, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America’s Toughest Sheriff;

Jailing two executives from a weekly news publication that printed Arpaio’s home address which can be found on a variety of public information websites;

Sending out civilian posses from its 300-volunteer force to find illegal immigrants;

Pushing for random drug testing in schools;

In April 2005, “raid[ing] a Mesa towing company operated by men who supported a political rival in the 2004 election. Two hundred boxes of documents seized”;

Making inmates learn patriotic songs in the Americanese language;

Running for reelection.

Those familiar with Arpaio know him for his tank that he uses to issue warrants (sometimes knocking down fences and walls) and two federal investigations, underway since 2008, showing that he misspent nearly $100 million in taxpayer dollars as well as engaging in racial profiling practices, abusing his powers, and violating civil rights.

Earlier he became famous for his “Tent City,” an extension of the Maricopa County Jail, where the vast majority of inmates are awaiting trial because they have not been convicted. In 1997, Amnesty International found that Tent Cityis not an “adequate or humane alternative to housing inmates in suitable … jail facilities.” Last July the temperature inside the tents hit 145 degrees.

The jail also serves only two meals a day and has chain gangs not only for men but also for women and juveniles. The pink underwear that inmates are forced to wear are also used for fundraisers: Arpaio sells pink boxers with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s logo and “Go Joe,” supposedly for the Sherriff’s Posse Association but with no accounting for the money that he receives.

Fans of Arpaio include neo-Nazis, some Republican presidential candidates including Rick Perry (who Arpaio endorsed), and those in Maricopa County who have voted him in for the past 20 years. These are the same people who supported the recentArizonalaw requiring racial profiling.

Arpaio’s world provides an excellent image of the country in which we would live if conservatives take total control of the United States.

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: