Nel's New Day

May 11, 2020

Life Gets Worse for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) held his first press conference since April 27—two weeks ago—and it didn’t go well. He refused to answer a question from an Asian-American reporter who came to Virginia when she was two years old by telling her to ask China. When she asked why, he said she had a “nasty question.” DDT had called on another reporter but then refused to let her ask any questions. When she tried to ask a question, he whirled around and stalked out of the Rose Garden. Journalists had different reasons for this particular meltdown, based on his recent personal problems.

First, COVID-19 invaded the White House in the form of two infected people, three others in self-quarantine, and most of the staffers afraid. DDT is “annoyed” about two staff members testing positive. Yesterday, Kevin Hassett, a top DDT economic adviser, said it’s “scary to go to work” and he’d “be a lot safer” if he stayed at home. He called the White House “a small, crowded place.” Staffers are told to wear masks when they aren’t at their desks and maintain social distancing. DDT still doesn’t wear a mask.

Second, the Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow in three cases about whether DDT is above the law, as he is proud of claiming, and cannot be investigated. In one case, the House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed DDT’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for possible fraud in hush money for Stormy Daniels and declaring assets for loans and taxes. Other subpoenas are for Capital One and Deutsche Bank about “questionable financing” of his businesses and whether “any foreign actor” (aka Russia) has “leverage” over him. The last case comes from whether, as president, he can be investigated for violating state law, also involving hush money DDT paid women with whom he had affairs. All the lower courts hearing these cases ruled that a president is not above the law, just as the Supreme Court did 46 years ago when it ruled that President Richard Nixon was required to give audio tapes to a special prosecutor. Nixon resigned 15 days later. The high court also ruled that President Bill Clinton had no immunity from lawsuits regarding events before he was elected.

Third, DDT was so traumatized by President Obama’s statements to 3,000 former staffers about the illegality of AG Bill Barr dropping the case against Michael Flynn and DDT’s incompetence in regard to the COVID-19 crisis that he rage-tweeted 52 times in one hour yesterday morning and every 7.5 minutes throughout the day. On the “leaked” tape, the former president was heard to say that DDT’s response to the pandemic was an “absolute chaotic disaster.” In his tweets, DDT fixated on the investigation into his 2016 campaign ties to Russia, calling it “Obamagate” and stating that it is “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” He wants people “indited [sic].” DDT did squeeze in one tweet with “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY’ but wrote nothing about the at least 80,000+ people who have thus far died of the virus. The only mention of the crisis was to praise himself by tweeting, “We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic.”

At today’s press briefing, journalist for the Washington Post Philip Rucker asked DDT what the crime is and whether the DOJ should prosecute the former president. DDT obfuscated for a while with no explanation of any crime. Rucker repeated his question, and DDT said:  

“You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”

At the press briefing, DDT also kept claiming that the U.S. has far more testing capacity than any other country. Thirty-seven other countries have tested more than the 29,255 people per million tested in the U.S.: Canada, Russia, Italy, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Israel, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, and Australia as well as many smaller countries.

Rural counties, including those in red states are seeing new COVID-19 hot zones in reopening states. Two-thirds of people in the U.S. live in counties with rates of over 100 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. The fastest growth of numbers in Midwestern and Southern states comes in smaller counties. Just 2.3 percent of newly high prevalence counties are in the Northeast. Counties voting for DDT in 2016 were more likely to see new cases in the past week.

In the press briefing, DDT repeated his lie that people “should all be able to get a test right now.” The lesser favored areas—mostly Democratic—must prioritize symptomatic people who have doctors’ prescriptions. CDC wants prioritization of hospitalized and high-risk patients. The nine million tests haven’t begun to meet the demand for testing. One-third of surveyed people feared they had the disease, but only five percent of the third could get a test. Admiral Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing testing efforts, said that states “aspire” to perform more than 12 million tests in the next four weeks, about 3.6 percent of people in the U.S. Yet, like DDT, he also said that people should not get tests if they have no symptoms, ignoring all the asymptomatic infections that need tracing—possibly up to 50 percent of the virus cases. According to Dr. Francis Collins, director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Abbott ID Now machine, used to perform rapid coronavirus tests, has “about a 15% false negative rate.” That means the testing that DDT, white House staffers, and anyone near DDT and VP Mike Pence will give a false negative 15 times for every 100 tests.

DDT has avoided any mention of the unemployment rate after using it for three years to prove how successful he is. In six weeks, 33.5 million people have filed jobless claims, and the Department of Labor listed the unemployment rate at 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression. About 157 million people were employed before the health crisis, meaning 20 percent of them have lost their jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, those figures fall woefully short of reality. Another 4.3 percent unemployed come from those who dropped out of the labor force. If the 7.5 million workers “misclassified as ’employed, not at work’ instead of ‘temporarily unemployed’ …  were classified correctly AND all coronavirus-related job losses had shown up as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be around 23.6%.” According to the EPI, about 12.7 million people lost employer-based health insurance.

Last month, the EPI also reported that three to four people couldn’t get into the system to apply for unemployment for every ten people who succeeded. Another two per ten said that the process was too complicated to try. That means an additional 50 percent of eligible unemployed not reported. Technical failures include difficult phone verification processes, limits of applications only on specific days, wait times of six to eight hours, websites shut down for long periods, and user information issued by mail.

Even without these glitches, the number of jobs lost in April was more than double the entire number lost in what was called the “Great Recession” of 2009. Although 80 percent of people who lost their jobs think they will get them back, this belief isn’t reality. According to Bloomberg, a large number of layoffs called “temporary” a month ago are now “indefinite” or “permanent.” J. Crew and Nieman Marcus are declaring bankruptcy, and Lord & Taylor are liquidating inventory in its 38 department stores. Although small businesses may reopen, fear will keep customers to going to them. Fifty-two percent of them expect to be out of business within six months.

On Fox & Friends, DDT’s BFF and trade adviser, Peter Navarro, called the reporting of unemployment a “pity party.” He continued, “Anybody who thinks this is the Great Depression doesn’t understand either history or economics.” Then he repeated DDT’s claim of “the strongest and most beautiful economy” before the virus. Two of the “pity party” participants were DDT’s appointees, White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. They agreed that job losses was leading the U.S. toward a similarity to the Great Depression. Mnuchin said that jobs were “probably going to get worse before they get better.”

Last week, Deutsche Bank predicted the second quarter GDP plummeting 40 percent, up from an earlier estimate of 13 percent down. It also thinks the economy will have a much slower recovery, hoping for an increase of 15 percent in the third quarter and 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter for a decline of 8 percent for 2020, rather than the prior forecast of 3.2 percent. A drop in consumer spending causing much of the 4.8 percent GDP slump in the first quarter will worsen. Goldman Sachs warned an 18 percent drop of stocks in the next three months because it’s in a “pseudo-bullish rally” right now.

Over 80,000 people—plus thousands and thousands of people not tested—have died from the deadliest disease in over a century, 26 million people have filed for unemployment this month, unemployment is over 20 percent, the stock market is the most volatile for decades, the GDP has dropped to unbelievable levels, and DDT announced at his campaign rally (that he calls a “coronavirus briefing”) that he is throwing himself a party on the Mall on the Fourth of July—despite the pandemic.

March 3, 2020

DDT’s Economy before Covid-19

As the new coronavirus, covid-19, continues its creep across the world, the economy—which had many cracks before the health crisis—may take a bit hit.

Financial markets: Last week, U.S. stocks’ drop of at least 10 percent had not been seen since 2008 in the great recession at the end of George W. Bush’s second term. Damage is being done to retirement accounts, especially if interest rates are again cut, and consumer confidence. Stocks went up this week but only because governments and banks promised to take care of the problem.

Retail: Reduction in discretionary spending influences an area providing for over two-thirds of U.S. economic growth. A covid-19 outbreak in the U.S. would also drive people to online outlets, threatening jobs in a sector showing no employment growth in 2019.

Travel and hospitality: Cancelation of conferences and meetings have already led to a drastic decline in global travel and tourism, hurting airlines, lodging, casinos, restaurants, concert/sports venues, and other businesses with close contact.

Technology: Factory shutdowns in China and neighboring countries already restricted supply of technology products and parts, necessary for huge companies such as Apple and Microsoft. Almost 80 percent of small and medium-sized industrial plants in China are still closed.

Automobiles: Lack of parts from China hurts the U.S. industry already suffering from DDT’s tariffs.

For the one argument to vote for him, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) bragged about creating the “best economy” people have ever known—low unemployment rate, lies about new jobs, and the high stock market. Even before the onslaught of covid-19, DDT’s economy was going downhill. He pushed through the tax cuts with promises for a GDP up to six percent but averaged $1 trillion deficit per year, twice President Obama’s last year. He hasn’t even hit three percent GDP growth for a year: 2.3 percent last year, 2.9 percent in 2018, and 2.4 percent his first year. President Obama hit over 4 percent in four different quarters. Goldman Sachs now estimates GDP for the first quarter of 2020 at 1.2 percent. Ed Hyman, Evercore ISI Chairman and widely followed economist on Wall Street, predicts 0.0 percent GDP for both second and third quarters of 2020. 

An update from early November showing DDT’s growing economy problems:

  • Private-sector investment had negative growth for most of 2019 as big business stores profits offshore and buys stocks in their companies.
  • Job growth of almost 2.1 million in 2019 was below that of 2018 and among the worst since 2011 when the country was crawling out of a big recession. DDT’s best year of 2018, with 2.31 million new jobs, was still under jobs gains during any of Obama’s last three years.
  • About 1 in 7 U.S. men between 25 and 54 (over 14 percent) aren’t employed, higher than the year before the economic disaster in 2007. Many of them don’t appear in unemployment statistics because they gave up looking for work. Most do not have college degrees and live in a handful of rural, low-income regions across the country.
  • Median household income rose only $1,400 during DDT’s first two years, compared to the $4,810 increase during President Obama’s last two years.
  • Wage growth dropped in states that didn’t have minimum-wage increases, and median wage for “blue collar” workers has gone down 12.3 percent since 1979. The $7.25 minimum wage, established 11 years ago, just shrank to $6.05 after adjusted for inflation.  U.S. households are poorer than before the 2007 financial crisis.
  • The median wage of a full-time male worker is still more than three percent below what it was 40 years ago. DDT’s change in the overtime rule means that eight million workers will receive lower wages, $1.4 billion less than under the 2016 rule.
  • The typical US male worker needs one additional week every year to support a family of four compared to the 30 weeks in 1985 that gave him the money. Now a man needs $54,441 for expenditures compared to the $13,227 required in 1985. Women are worse off, requiring 45 weeks in 1985 compared to 66 weeks in 2018.
  • Median household income in Democratic districts is $61,000, compared with $53,000 for Republicans.
  • Conservative policies are responsible for millennials’ huge college debt, stagnant wages, unaffordable health care, climate change problems, and massive federal deficits.
  • Nine of the last ten recessions began under Republicans: 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1981, 1990, 2001, and 2007. The only Democratic one was in 1980, resulting from the oil crisis in the late 1970s.
  • In the employment figures that DDT praises, 57 million workers, one-third of all employed people, have gig economy jobs without any benefits such as health insurance. People in those jobs, as well as other ones that don’t provide sick leave, are likely to spread covid-19 by working while sick and having contact with a large number of people.  
  • In two years, the uninsured rate increased from 10.9 percent to 13.7 percent, and life expectancy dropped in the first two years after DDT was inaugurated—in 2017 the highest rate of midlife mortality since World War II.
  • Almost 60 percent of people in the U.S. cannot cover an emergency expense of $1,000 such as a car repair
  • In a Monmouth University poll, only 12 percent of people in the U.S. said their families had “benefited a great deal” from recent economic growth, and only 18 percent said that middle-class families had benefited a lot from Trump’s economic policies. 

DDT wants people to overlook his soliciting foreign interference to get elected, incessantly lying, obstructing justice, and destroying the lives of people through his domestic and foreign policies. His demand for votes based on a continuation of Obama’s economy ignores the indicators of a coming recession.

  • The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 47.2, its lowest level since June 2009. Unemployment has increased in Ohio and Pennsylvania for the past six months, and Michigan and Wisconsin manufacturing unemployment has eroded.
  • Manufacturing cut 12,000 jobs in December; mining shed 8,000; and transportation and warehousing dumped 10,000. US Steel shuttered its Detroit plant and laid off 1,545 workers. Two hundred workers lost their jobs earlier last year.
  • Shipment volume dropped 9.4 percent in January 2020 compared to an already weak January the previous year. The decrease was for the 14th month and the steepest since October 2009. In December, the Celadon Group, with 3,000 drivers and 2,700 tractors, became the largest truckload carrier to file for bankruptcy, and barge operator American Commercial Lines, with 3,500 barges mostly the Mississippi River, declared bankruptcy in January. Two of the largest US railroads, CSX and Union Pacific, dropped revenues and reported massive layoffs from weak transportation.
  • Car sales have declined since 2016 to below their level in 2000, and new-vehicle registration in California, the biggest U.S. market, dropped 5.5 percent in 2019. New-vehicle sales have dropped to
  • Five percent of auto loans are delinquent.
  • Credit card delinquencies increased in 2019 to 8.36 percent. Subprime credit-card delinquency rates are at an all-time high.
  • One in nine borrowers of student debt, now over $1.5 trillion, were reported 90+ days delinquent or in default in 2019. This figure might be understated because half of student loans aren’t in the repayment cycle because they are in deferment, grace periods, or forbearance. Delinquency rates are projected to be about twice as high when those loans enter the repayment cycle.
  • The size of the stock market relative to the size of the economy is at its highest level ever, showing that it’s overvalued. Because of stock over-evaluation, asset managers expect a recession this year or in 2021.
  • Capital spending by S&P 500 companies grew less than 1 percent in the third quarter and would have fallen without Apple and Amazon because uncertain business environment causes companies to cut back on spending.

GOP Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley encouraged DDT and his economists, including Peter Navarro, to read about parallels to the booming 1920s in Dan Henninger’s Wall Street Journal op-ed by Dan Henninger. The economic growth, when Congress cut taxes three times in a time of huge income inequality, was followed by the financial crash and almost a decade of deep fiscal depression. Herbert Hoover, elected in 1928, loved tariffs that damaged an already declining economy and signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff law in 1930, a policy that severely restricted trade and strained the economy by raising import taxes.

After a cash shortage in financial institutions last September, the Federal Reserve flooded the market with overnight “repos,” repurchase operations by purchasing $60 billion a month in short-term Treasury bills. Banks buy them overnight and sell them back the next day at a higher price to meet federal requirements for minimum reserves. 

The economy would have shown greater signs of tanking without the Federal Reserve acting as if the U.S. were in a recession instead of a sound economy. The agency practiced quantitative easing, buying assets such as bonds. The last time the government did this to get out of the great recession, the Fed stopped the practice as soon as the economy recovered. Now, the Fed is purchasing bonds at a $60 billion per month–$720 billion a year or about three-fourths of a trillion dollars—more debt for future generations. This system moves more wealth to the top, away from most people.

The Fed has also cut interest rates several times since DDT was inaugurated, most recently the 0.5 percent this morning which dropped the rate to below 1.25 percent—the largest cut since 2008. The purpose is to encourage people to spend, an unlikely behavior during a health crisis.

A recent Pew research poll found that “[s]even-in-10 U.S. adults say the economic system in their country unfairly favors powerful interests.” William D. Cohan wrote that covid-19 gave investors the reason for grabbing their profits in a shaky economy and DDT an excuse to blame the stock market on something other than his economic policies that “widened the gulf between the rich and poor” to the biggest divide since the Gilded Age of 150 years ago.   

February 25, 2020

Coronavirus Hits the Economy

The latest victim to fall to the coronavirus in the United States was the economy: in the past two days, the Dow Jones stock market dropped almost 2,000 points, the worst two-day point drop on record. The three biggest indexes—Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq—each averaged three-percent drops for both yesterday and today. Goldman Sachs, citing the dangerous virus, cut its growth forecast for the U.S. economy to 1.2 percent for the first quarter, well below the 2.3 percent rate in 2019 and nowhere near the 4 to 6 percent that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) promised when he pushed through his massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business.

DDT largely ignored the coronavirus until the drastic drop in stock markets. That’s when he considered a request from Congress for first $1 billion and then $2.5 billion to ameliorate the disease–and raise the Dow. Asha George, director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, said an immediate package of $3 billion is necessary for funding vaccines and antidotes, stockpiling medical supplies, manufacturing medications, creating and sending diagnostic kits to doctors and hospitals, and planning and guidance. She said that agencies already need the $200 million taken from other programs to fight the disease. HHS has already transferred over $130 million from some of its accounts into combatting the virus, including an emergency infectious disease rapid-response fund. DDT wants to move $535 million from an Ebola preparedness account, a disease killing tens of thousands of people, making people vulnerable to that disease.

DDT attacked Democrats for wanting more money, but they aren’t alone. When HHS Secretary Alex Azar asked Congress for the $2.5 billion, some Republicans agreed that it might not be enough. “If you lowball something like this, you’ll deal with it later,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) told Azar. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said that senators will “decide the final numbers.”

DHS acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, demonstrated DDT’s low level of competence in appointments when Cuccinelli frantically tweeted for help in in finding a map showing the coronavirus spread. When he couldn’t locate the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering department’s map showing the latest COVID-19 numbers and locations, he tweeted that it “seems like bad timing to stop helping the world.” Curiosity had caused the site to be overwhelmed, but meanwhile Cuccinelli had publicized his ignorance to the world. The article about his experiences is well worth reading just because of Twitter responses.

Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf did almost as badly as Cuccinelli during a Senate hearing when he couldn’t accurately state the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., didn’t know how many cases came into the US. from cruise ships, couldn’t explain how the virus is transmitted, and was unaware of mortality rates for both coronavirus and influenza. According to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu deaths are about 1 in 1,000 people in the U.S. compared to 1 in 50 deaths from coronavirus. Wolf doesn’t know whether the U.S. has enough respirators and masks. His ignorance was made obvious by questioning from Louisiana’s GOP Sen. John Neely Kennedy. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.).

On her MSNBC news program, Rachel Maddow pointed out how DDT has weakened the U.S. fight against the coronavirus health crisis: In 2018, DDT “fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command back in 2018 and never replaced them with anyone,” according to Pulitzer Prize winning science journalist Laurie Garrett. He fired the point person on all global health security matters on the National Security Council and didn’t bother to find someone else for the job. President Obama had one person in charge of the Ebola crisis, but DDT has left the coronavirus response to different agencies with difficulty in cooperation. The National Security Council’s entire global health security unit was shut down, and John Bolton pushed out a similar team from the DHS. Many of the CDC global health section were cut along with a reduction of countries where CDC worked from 49 to only 10. DDT is eroding the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and wants to cut it by 40 percent. In addition, DDT’s cuts to the National Institutes of Health and CDC hurt the possibility for research into the disease.  

DDT has come up with two solutions for the growing pandemic: it will be over in April with warmer weather, and the U.S. is “very close to a vaccine.” The severity of some viruses lessens in spring and summer, but CDC is concerned that the coronavirus may not be one of them. Under optimum conditions, a vaccine for coronavirus might be available between 12 and 18 months. The White House tried to cover for DDT in his mistake with the claim that DDT referred to the Ebola virus in talking about being close to a vaccine.

The CDC opposed putting people with coronavirus on the same plane as those who tested negative to fly them from Japan for quarantine, but DDT’s administration ignored the recommendation. DDT said there wouldn’t be any problem in mixing presumably healthy people with sick ones. Director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy Michael Osterholm called that decision “one of the cruelest human experiments I’ve seen in my entire career.” The administration, however, is protecting DDT. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was told not to go to India with DDT because Mulvaney had a cold.

DDT, supported by his National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, is endangering public health in the U.S. by encouraging people to buy “these dips” in order to make DDT look good before his election while minimizing the danger of a disease that has already killed thousands of people. DDT’s claim that the virus is “under control” has no proof. A public health crisis needs trusted information, something that people will never get from DDT.

Rush Limbaugh, the most recent recipient of DDT’s Medal of Freedom, complained about how “the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.” Limbaugh has his own alternative fact about coronavirus that he shared with millions of conservatives and says that he’s “dead right on this.” He falsely claims that “coronavirus is the common cold.”

With no evidence for his conspiracy theory, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) maintains that China deliberately created the coronavirus that is killing its citizens and destroying its commerce. Experts debunked Cotton’s theory, but he continues to talk about the proximity of a lab to a market, falsely considered the virus’ starting point. His justification for his myth is “China’s duplicity and dishonesty” and persists in identifying the false “hypothesis” of an engineered virus. According to the highly reputable medical journal Lancet, scientists from several countries outside China conclude that this virus, like many other recently emerging viruses in humans, originated in wildlife

The CDC sent out faulty coronavirus testing kits to U.S. labs, but officials aren’t saying how many of the 200 kits are in that category. These kits, each testing 700-800 specimens, were intended to provide results faster than shipping samples to CDC in Atlanta. Over 30 kits intended for other countries weren’t shipped because of the flaw. One ingredient in the test caused the problem. Mislabeled samples in San Diego allowed a woman with coronavirus to be discharged from a hospital. Tests cannot also identify infected people still in the incubation period.

A few facts about Covid-19, the new strain of coronavirus:

  • Symptoms: Coughs, fever, and breathing difficulties that can lead to pneumonia. Some people who test positive have no symptoms.
  • Cure: Recovery depends on a person’s immune system because antibiotics have no influence on the virus.
  • Transmission: Person to person within six feet through air, coughs, and sneezing.
  • Extent: 80,000 people in 31 countries, the worst being China. China has 2,663 deaths among 77,658 cases. Over 12,000 people in China have recovered. Italy, Japan, and South Korea have hundreds of cases, and deaths have occurred in Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Iran and the Philippines.
  • Mortality rate: 2 percent in the epicenter of the outbreak.
  • Other coronaviruses: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers).

Market Watch posits that the drop in stocks is more than the effect of the Covid-19 on the world economy. The uncertainty of the virus consequences may be equaled by the uncertainty of the 2020 election outcome. Economists have been waiting almost a year to see when over-valued stocks would “correct” as DDT kept using the high stock markets as an indicator of economic growth. Recession in the U.S. has been a concern for at least a year, and the virus concern may kick these worries into overdrive.

July 28, 2018

DDT: Week 79 – Attacks Fail to Divert Attention

Tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got crazier this week in his attacks on Iran, FISA judges, U.S. citizens, China, the Russia “hoax,” foreign trade, the Washington Post, DOJ, FBI, the media, and other targets. DDT’s raging statements, sometimes in all caps, repeat Fox network and try to distract people from the negative news such as former campaign manager Paul Manafort heading to trial, Russian spy Mariia Butina in jail without bail, DDT’s fixer Michael Cohen dribbling out information, and continuing negative information about DDT’s relationship with Vladimir Putin.

Declared “weak” in his interactions with Putin, DDT tried to prove his strength—by threatening to attack Iran.

DDT set up a black list of six former top officials, threatening to revoke their security clearances—even ones who don’t have them—because they criticized his foreign policy. expressed alarm about Russian interference in U.S. elections. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused at least six of them for profiting off their public service (ironic because of the millions of dollars that DDT is making from his current position) and making “baseless accusations” against DDT. Sen. Paul Rand (R-KY) takes credit for DDT’s threat. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) chuckled about DDT’s threat and said that he was “just trolling people.” DDT has said no more about the clearances after the original threat: the negative backlash to DDT’s threat may have caused him to back down.

Another backlash may have led DDT to play nice (sort of) with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a short-term arrangement. EU would buy more soybeans and LNG from the U.S. while DDT puts existing tariff plans on hold—except for cars, aluminum, and steel. DDT bragged to farmers about how he “opened up Europe,” but the U.S. sold $1.6 billion in soybeans last year to Europeans. Buying more LNG will take years because new facilities will have to be built.  DDT has called this plan a “deal,” but it is only a truce—not a peace treaty—vaguely suggesting future talks that return to the President Obama’s proposal that DDT earlier rejected.

In an attempt to buy off farmers hurt by his tariffs, DDT promised them $12 billion in socialist welfare, but conservatives are not satisfied. Over 2.5 billion pounds of red meat and poultry languish in warehouses because of no buyers, U.S. producers are scaling back, and pork producers face massive financial losses with some of them possibly going out of business. Farmers say they want stability, not compensation. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called the idea “a Soviet-type of economy here,” and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) described it as a “gold-plated crutch.”

Chinese tariffs helped cause the GDP’s rise to 4.1 percent for this year’s second quarter as farmers desperately exported soybeans in May before the foreign tariff took effect. Increases for that month were 50 percent to 90 percent over last year, a factor that temporarily dropped the trade deficit by $50 billion. Another temporary jolt to the economy was congressional approval of increased federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over two years that increases the deficit. DDT gave credit for the higher GDP to the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, but businesses are putting tax windfalls into stock buybacks and dividends with no long-term benefit. Lack of increases in wages and investments are growing the income inequality.

More damage to DDT comes from Cohen’s turning on him. In the first of at least 100 Cohen tapes to be released, DDT agreed to pay $150,000 to quiet the story about his year-long affair with Karen McDougal during his early marriage with Melania. The voices on the tape may provide more witnesses for Robert Mueller’s investigation, and the tape proves that DDT lied to his voters about his affair and buying her off. It also suggests that DDT had affairs with several women, not just one, and Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has information about some of these women. DDT’s lies connected to the tape—and the bonus of the video in which a bald eagle frightens DDT.

Following the tape’s release, Cohen’s claimed that he witnessed Donald Trump Jr. tell his father about the June 9, 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others at Trump Tower before it took place. Both Jr. and DDT have long denied that DDT knew about the meeting for over a year after it happened, but Cohen stated that DDT gave an approval for the meeting. In the meeting were four Russians, Jr., Jared Kushner, and DDT’s campaign director Paul Manafort. Two days before the meeting, DDT had widely announced plans for a “major speech” about Hillary Clinton’s scandals but never delivered.

The Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, hinting that DDT’s business was involved in the Karen McDougal payoff to keep her story out of the National Enquirer. No one may know more about DDT’s financial affairs that Weisselberg. He worked for both DDT and DDT’s father, both for the business and DDT’s foundation that is being sued for violating state and federal laws, set up DDT’s trust, done DDT’s personal tax returns for many years, and reportedly organized the payment to Stormy Daniels.

Microsoft thwarted the hackers who broke into the DNC server during Clinton’s campaign when they targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) last August at the same time that DDT told Missouri audiences to “vote her out of office.” Two other unnamed Democratic candidates were also the hackers’ targets. With no evidence, DDT claimed that Russia is working to elect Democrats in the upcoming election, but he is doing nothing to stop any hacking.

DDT and Republicans may not have any concern about Russians electing more Republicans, but they should be concerned about Russians hacking into the U.S. utility grid. According to the Wall Street Journal, Russian hackers broke into the networks of key U.S. power companies throughout last year, possibly causing blackouts. Companies may not be aware of the program because the hackers used employee identities to enter the networks.

Two Senate committees are investigating the meeting between DDT and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Foreign Relations panel, and the Banking Committee will consider legislation to strengthen existing sanctions. Pompeo refused to tell senators about the content of DDT and Putin’s private discussion, perhaps he didn’t know anything. Under questioning, he admitted that North Korea is still producing fissile material for nuclear bombs despite DDT’s guarantee that Kim Jung-Un had stopped. Pompeo’s most reassuring comment was “Fear not.”

Kim Jong-Un refuses to proceed with North Korea’s denuclearization until DDT gives him a permanent peace treaty, an agreement requiring two-thirds acceptance by Congress. Last week, DDT changed his message about North Korea about complete safety for the U.S. to “no rush” and “no time limit” on the denuclearization negotiations. The U.S. has received the remains of only 55 bodies from North Korea despite DDT’s earlier claim that the number was 200. The remains are in Hawaii for identification. About 5,300 U.S. soldiers are missing from the war between North and South Korea in the early 1950s.

The WaPo reported about the aftermath of DDT’s meeting with Kim:

“Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish. Meanwhile, a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.”

The interesting term in this reporting is “more money” because no information about payment to North Korea was released.

In another walk-back, DDT said that Putin isn’t invited to the White House until next year, according to John Bolton, because DDT is waiting for the “witch hunt” to be over. Putin had never officially accepted an invitation to Washington, but when he said that DDT is welcome in Russia, DDT jumped at the chance. DDT and Putin may get together at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in late November.

As DDT gets excited about seeing his BFF Putin, a majority of people in the U.S. are displeased about DDT’s pandering to Russia, according to this week’s Quinnipiac and NPR/Marist polls:

  • 68 percent are “very/somewhat concerned” about DDT’s relationship with Russia.
  • 54 percent say that DDT was not acting in the best interest of the U.S. in Helsinki.
  • 63 percent trust U.S. intelligence to tell them the truth over 25 percent for DDT.
  • 51 percent believe Russia has “compromising information” on DDT.
  • 64 percent say DDT is “not tough enough” on Russia.
  • 58 percent of independents “strongly/somewhat” disapprove of DDT in an NBC/WSJ poll.
  • 73% think the Helsinki summit was a success for Russia.
  • 56% agreed in a Navigator survey that DDT’s foreign policy doesn’t put “America first.”

Much more in the next part about DDT’s busy week.

April 28, 2017

DDT: Week Fourteen, More Failures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 17, 2012

Republican Politicians Attack Obama

The Mitt Romney campaign is on the ropes and going crazy. The most recent issue is not just a gaffe; it’s a horrible mistake that won’t go away. No one who watches television can have missed the whole whooplaw about Romney’s refusal to release more than the past two years of income tax returns and his attempt to explain that he quit Bain Capital before the company sent jobs to China—except for those jobs in which they cut up aborted fetuses and burned them. I chuckle every time I hear Romney say, “I’ve put out as much as I’ve put out.”

George Will got it right when he said, “The cost of not releasing the returns are clear. Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”  He did give a typical conservative answer about making sure that he could hide everything: “I do not know why, given that Mitt Romney knew the day that [John] McCain lost in 2008 that he was going to run for president again that he didn’t get all of this out and tidy up some of his offshore accounts and all the rest.” Will, by the way, is the staunch Republican pundit who stole Jimmy Carter’s questions before the 1980 debate and gave them to his opponent, Ronald Reagan.

The feeding frenzy isn’t going away, despite all the attempts by Romney’s supporters to divert the discussion. Speculation has run rampant through the media. Did he not pay taxes? Or did he make even more money from Bain than we realize?  Or did he have to pay fines? Or did he have even more offshore tax dodges than the ones in Bermuda, the Caymans, and the Swiss bank account? Or would the tax returns  show deductions from “controversial charities” that would turn off his potential voters?

The issue of Bain’s offshoring by sending jobs from its purchased companies to China has paled by comparison, but it’s equally as perplexing. Romney spent three weeks saying that there was nothing wrong with doing this until he calculated the problems from admitting it and told everyone who would listen that he wasn’t at Bain at the time that this happened. On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Ed Gillespie said that Romney decided to “retroactively retire” for the previous years in 2002, not explaining why Romney took money for working while retired. And even now, Romney doesn’t criticize offshoring; he just says that he didn’t do it.

The Olympics situation may add to Romney’s problems. When he was asked how he felt about the clothing for United States’ participants being made in China, he said, “No comment.” Possibly he wanted the entire question to go away because the clothing for the 2002 Winter Olympics torchbearers, the Olympics administered by Romney, were made in Burma, until last year a brutally military regime.

The Republican forces are gathering to protect Romney by attacking President Obama. After the president’s speech talking about how the United States has accomplished important things by working together to build an infrastructure, John Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire said Obama’s recent defense of public infrastructure shows he “doesn’t understand how America works.” Later Sununu said, “I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”

Another distortion of President Obama’s speech came from his statement that “U.S. policymakers are lazy in creating jobs.” True, but the Republicans are now running television ads that claim the president said, “Americans are lazy.”

Sununu may have gotten more talking points from Rush Limbaugh. “He [Obama] has no idea how the American system functions,” Sununu said on Fox News. “And we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent … another set of years in Indonesia.”

Limbaugh said Romney should “get down and dirty with Obama” and say:

“Look, pal, when I was out creating jobs, investing in businesses, and growing this economy, you were at Columbia smoking weed and snorting coke. You write about it in your book. You talk about how you got into Columbia and the Harvard Law Review, and you didn’t have to do anything. That’s what was great about it to you! You loved getting into Columbia ’cause all you had to do was go to class, get your grades, and smoke a little weed! Well, I was out building the country when you were doing that.”

I can’t understand what influenced Sununu to accuse President Obama of outsourcing “a major portion of the U.S. space program to the Russians.” FactCheck declared this statement false and explained that George W. Bush set NASA on a path eight years ago to retire the Space Shuttle and rely on the Russians for space travel. It was under President Obama’s charge that the Space Shuttle program ended, but it was George W. Bush who retired the shuttle because the White House refused to give NASA the authority and funds to replace it.

Bush directed NASA to retire the shuttle in 2010 to coincide with the scheduled completion of the space station as part of his plan for NASA that also called for the agency “to conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014,” with the goal of reaching the moon in 2020 and using it as a base for future trips to Mars.

In a 2007 speech at Georgetown University, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said the U.S. may have “no alternative other than to use Soyuz [Russian space craft] for crew transport and rescue.” Bush signed a bill on Sept. 30, 2008, so that Russians would provide transportation to the space station. U.S. astronauts also went to the space station aboard the Soyuz in 2003 after the Columbia disaster caused a suspension of the shuttle program for two years and Edward Lu used Russian transportation. If this is outsourcing, Sununu should have kept quiet because it’s the Republican president who offshored the NASA program.

Even sometimes-reasonable Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, has joined the irrational chorus. Because Republican governors in Utah and Nevada asked the Obama administration for flexibility in the welfare reform law that required adults to either work or participate in a work training program, the president granted flexibility to satisfy their needs. On a voluntary basis, states can now “experiment with ways to improve the number of people making the jump from government assistance to jobs.” On Fox and Friends, Huckabee said:

“It’s basically just a transfer of money from the taxpayer to the government, from the government to people who become beneficiaries of the government, because that way the government can own these people. It is a trap, and it is like the roach motel. Once you get in, but you never get out.”

It’s not the first time that conservatives have compared people needing the safety net to animals. Gabriela Saucedo Mercer, the GOP candidate for Arizona’s District 3, put the following on her website before she hastily removed it.

“The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is actually proud of the fact it is distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to ‘Please Do Not Feed The Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves. This ends today’s lesson.”

Arizona is one of the top two states with food insecure (aka hungry) children; in Arizona 29 percent of the children go to bed hungry each night.

Another Republican disaster today is the release of the first book from the George W. Bush Institute, The 4 Percent Solution: Unleashing the Economic Growth America Needs.  James K. Glassman, executive director of the Bush Institute, said the book states the country can achieve a 4 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by extending the Bush-era tax cuts, broadening the tax base by getting rid of special exemptions and loopholes, taxing consumption rather than income, and lowering corporate taxes. With GDP being the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given period, it is often considered an indicator of a country’s standard of living.

During the reign of George W. Bush, who wrote the forward for The 4 Percent Solution, the GDP averaged just over 2.3 percent using the ideas promoted in the Bush Institute’s book. Because of the over 30% increase in imports during that time, business investment actually declined relative to GDP despite all the Bush tax breaks. Residential investment, which was almost 35% higher in 2005 than it was in 2000, plummeted to less than 83% of its 2000 level by 2008.

Republicans repeatedly say that President Obama’s policies are ruining the nation. He hasn’t had a chance to put his policies into effect. It’s the conservative Republicans’ policies that keep the GDP from growing as Republicans refuse to provide revenue and send jobs out of the country.

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