Nel's New Day

June 3, 2016

Trump, Worse Than What Clinton Said

Hillary Clinton’s speech yesterday about Donald Trump was brilliant, but some of the ideas in Hillary Clinton’s takedown Donald Trump yesterday came directly from Mitt Romney’s speech about Trump just three months ago. “[Trump’s] domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill,” Romney said. Trump said Clinton lied about what he said, but here is a fact-check on everything she said.

Trump is the man that GOP voters say they support because they think that Hillary Clinton is “unlikeable,” a workaholic, and too friendly. A complaint, not supported, is that she lied about the email and Benghazi issues, yet Trump lies about literally everything–an average of every 41 seconds. Trump charged thousands of dollars for enrollment at “Trump University,” a multilevel marketing scheme instead of a university. No college degree—just information about real estate investing. “Students” were told to ask for credit line increases to pay the $35,000 for the “Trump Gold Elite” package and promised that going into this debt would increase their credit score. Some supposedly experienced real estate investors had never worked in real estate; some had declared bankruptcy in the past; and others just disappeared before the end of the “education.” Documents show the con of the “university” recruiters.

Trump’s lawsuit gained fame after his racist statements about its judge, Gonzalo Curiel. At first Trump called him a Mexican but then toned down his rhetoric to say that he is of “Mexican heritage.” Even so, Trump accused the judge of having a “conflict of interest” because of Trump’s claim that “I’m building a wall.” According to Trump, all judges of Hispanic descent should recuse themselves because of his racist remarks.

Curiel was actually born in Chicago and has been on the hit list of a Mexican drug cartel. Trump also referred to Curiel as a “hater” and “a very biased and unfair judge,” despite Curiel’s courtesy to Trump in postponing his trial until November 28, after the general election. Trump used President Obama’s appointment of Curiel in other attacks on him, but the judge started his judicial career as a GOP appointment by California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

Although some GOP Latinos are hoping for a shift in Trump’s racist campaign, Ruth Guerra, the RNC’s Hispanic media communications director, left her job for a super PAC because of her inability to defend Trump. Conservative strategist Ana Navarro said, “If you’re a Hispanic holding your breath and hoping for Donald Trump to get better in his outreach to Latinos, you’re going to die of asphyxia.” In a news conference this week, Trump singled out two Hispanic network television reporters for criticism, calling ABC’s Tom Llamas a “sleaze” and CNN’s Jim Acosta “a real beauty.” Trump started his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” “criminals,” and “killers.” Last month he attacked New Mexico’s GOP Gov. Susanna Martinez, the only female Hispanic governor in the nation, for being  lazy and ineffectual. Today, 84 percent of Hispanics have an unfavorable view of Trump compared to only 50 percent who held the same view of Mitt Romney four years ago.

In an even more bizarre twist today, Trump pointed to a supporter in the Redding (CA) audience and said, “Look at my African-American over here.”

Hispanics aren’t the only people on Trump’s hit list. A few of his terms for women are “bimbo, dog, and fat pig” as shown in this anti-Trump ad released by a GOP PAC last March. Clinton has been falsely accused of calling Monica Lewinsky, but she her only description of Lewinsky was a “narcissistic loonie toon.”

Trump’s involvement in at least 3,500 state and federal legal actions shows that litigation is his favorite method of “negotiation”:

  • Trump as plaintiff – 1,900 cases;
  • Trump as defendant  – 1,450 times;
  • Bankruptcies or other big business court filings – 150 times;
  • Casinos – 1,700 times;
  • Personal injuries – 700 times;
  • Real estate disputes plus government and taxes – 465 times;
  • Trump University, Miss Universe, and libel suits – 55 times;
  • Dismissed or discontinued cases – 500;
  • Trump wins – 450 cases;
  • Settled – 175 cases;
  • New cases filed since Trump formally announced his candidacy – 70.

Trump refuses to release his tax returns, but he could be into debt for as much $1 billion to the German Deutsche Bank that has been long-time fighting the U.S. regarding regulations. The bank had to pay $2.5 billion fine for rigging interest rates and reached multiple settlements for price fixing metals. His ambiguous financial statement lists 16 loans from 11 different creditors, five unpaid ones worth $50 million or more. His income may be dropping: bookings for his hotels have dropped by 60 percent. Trump has pledged to repeal the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Trump’s claim that he raised $6 million for veterans, including his own $1 million donation, after refusing to participate in a Fox debate failed to show donations to these groups until the Washington Post asked about the money this past week. His excuse was that he was demanding tax information from the groups—the same information that he won’t provide to the U.S. public. He didn’t raise that $6 million, he hadn’t donated $1 million, and he didn’t donate the money to veterans.

Trump’s over 500 businesses listed in a personal financial disclosure form filed with the FEC creates a massive conflict of interest for Trump. Unelected officials working in the executive branch cannot collect income from outside businesses and participate in government decisions affecting private financial interests, but congressional members, federal judges, the vice-president, and the president are exempt from this restriction. Many Trump businesses are in countries that oppose the candidate’s personal foreign policy such as Dubai, Qatar, and China, and he operates businesses in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Philippines, South Africa and Turkey.

Trump said that his children would run the Trump business affairs if he is elected. But the closeness of the three to Trump could still represent a conflict of interest, and Trump is known for frequently reversing his declarations, calling them a “suggestion” rather than an intent. Trump has already used his victory speeches for infomercials regarding his water, wine, and steaks. An elected Trump could turn the White House into a Wal-Mart, as Timothy O’Brien wrote in Bloomberg. 

Yesterday, Trump completed his takeover of the GOP after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) quietly announced in his small-town newspaper that he would be voting for Trump as president.  Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman wrote, “Speaker Paul Ryan endorses nominee who wants to ban Muslims from the country. The hostile takeover of the GOP is now complete.” Washington Post called it “a sad day for Ryan—and for America.” GOP politicians who  can’t bring themselves to praise him come up with such statements as “it is what it is” (Marco Rubio), “he will help turn the House GOP’s agenda into laws” (Ryan). Former House majority leader Eric Cantor, said, “He’s a businessman . . . [but] he’s been on so many sides of every issue that you never know.” Wikipedia gives a list of “endorsements,” but many of these people are just resigned to vote for Trump. Yet many of the worst GOP leaders have expressed ambivalence about Trump support. Pundits have come up with a new term for these non-endorsers—SINOs or Supporters in Name Only.

As bad as the GOP leaders are in their support of Trump, voters following him are worse. Victor Vizcarra, 45, is representative of this mindless mindset looking for excitement when he said he chose Trump after Sanders because a Clinton administration would be “boring.” He continued:

 “A dark side of me wants to see what happens if Trump is in. There is going to be some kind of change, and even if it’s like a Nazi-type change, people are so drama-filled. They want to see stuff like that happen. It’s like reality TV. You don’t want to just see everybody be happy with each other. You want to see someone fighting somebody.”

And maybe a few nuclear explosions! People who want to think that Vizcarra is an anomaly are wrong. More and more, voters want to send their rage-filled message and experience the rush of craziness in “reality” shows like as Survival. They don’t care that their frantic search for entertainment in politics will lead the U.S. into the abyss.

Marty Kaplan wrote:

“Hillary Clinton has a presidential temperament. Her script promises stability. If the choice in November is between “’The Apprentice’ Goes to Washington” and “The Progressive Who Gets Things Done Show,” which one will the audience vote to watch?”

The answer could be really scary.

June 3, 2015

Will Hastert Have to Follow His Principles?

Moral values have always been a strong platform of the Republican party, but they consistently betray their own conservative positions. The latest example is 73-year-old Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the U.S. House, bribing someone to conceal an “unidentified event” long ago while Hastert taught in Yorkville (IL). Promising to pay an unnamed person $3.5 million, Hastert has been indicted for withdrawing $1.7 million of money in sums under $10,000 to avoid IRS detection and then lying to the FBI about the money. It appears that he molested at least two underage males while he was coaching wrestling.

Barney Frank pointed out on All In with Chris Hayes:

“There is a hypocrisy issue. Dennis Hastert was a member of the House who voted for the Defense of Marriage act. He subsequently as Speaker twice put before the House of Representatives the constitutional amendment that would have cancelled retroactively all the same sex marriages that had taken place legally. … The rank hypocrisy of this man using his power to persecute other people for doing what he was doing.”

Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was forced to resign from the Speaker position in 1998 because he was having an affair with an employee of the House Agriculture Committee while he was still married. (Later he divorced his wife, and married the woman.)  His replacement, Rep. Robert Livingston (R-LA), resigned because he was having an affair with a lobbyist who was lobbying him. (His replacement was David Vitter, a right-wing family-values conservative who was then caught having adulterous affairs with prostitutes.) Livingston then formed a lobbying group, blocking a Senate bill to call on one of his clients, Egypt, to curtail the country’s human rights abuses.

Hastert took over as Speaker just 18 days after the beginning of impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. Frank concluded, “I think that it now looks like if you take Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, and Robert Livingston the Republican Speakers or would be speakers, Clinton is a choir boy.”

Orin Kerr summarized the situation in the Washington Post:

“If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy.”

One of the impeachment “managers” who made the case to the Senate was Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), who had had an adulterous affair. It was called a “youthful indiscretion,” but it happened when Hyde was 41. He is known for the Hyde Amendment barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions that has annually appeared as riders on appropriation bills for the past 30 years.

Hastert voted “aye” on all four impeachment counts. During the impeachment proceedings, Princeton scholar Sean Wilentz told House Republicans that, in the future, they would be seen as “zealots and fanatics” and added, “History will hunt you down for your cravenness.”

In addition to consistently voting against marriage equality, Hastert voted no on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill to prohibit companies from discriminating against LGBT employees. He was also a strong supporter of funding for abstinence sex education because “more kids need to be taught to just say no, that doesn’t just apply to drugs, it also applies to sex before marriage.” Hastert resigned as Speaker after the discovery that he had protected former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) who had sexual  relationships with boys employed as pages at the U.S. Capitol.

In his autobiography over a decade old ago, Hastert wrote, “I was never a very good liar. Maybe I wasn’t smart enough. I could never get away with it, so I made up my mind as a kid to tell the truth and pay the consequences.”

Hastert codified a House doctrine, first used by Gingrich, that prevented any floor vote on a bill unless a “majority of the majority” party supports the bill. The policy, called “The Hastert Rule,” has resulted in a combination of massive gridlock and partisanship in the House. No bill can go to the floor unless the Speaker of the House gives permission. For example, a bill technically passes the House with 218 votes, but with the current number of Democrats in the House at 170, a bill must have at least 123 Republican votes—that’s a required 293 votes, almost 55 percent of the House members. Last year, the immigration bill passed with 68 votes in the Senate failed to even get an up-or-down vote in the House because too few GOP members supported it.

Known as a nice guy, Hastert hid scandals during his tenure as Speaker for people in his own party. He concealed Tom DeLay’s misconduct until they became obvious. When the ethics committee recommended a series of reprimands for DeLay in 2004, Hastert fired the committee chair, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) and two other GOP members of the committee, Kenny Hulshof (MO) and Steve LaTourette (OH) before leading rule changes to make it harder to admonish House members. After three DeLay associates were indicted, Hastert enacted a rule enabling DeLay to stay as majority leader if he were indicted.

Colleagues claimed that Hastert was squeaky clean, but he manipulated land transactions in his home state to increase his net worth by millions of dollars. He bought land at a low price while two cronies purchased adjacent land at a much higher price before merging the parcels in a trust that gave Hastert an inflated share. Using his clout as Speaker, he jammed through a transportation bill with an attached $207 million earmark to fund a highway interchange that neither the Illinois Department of Transportation nor residents adjacent to the land wanted. The Speaker got $3 million, a 500-percent profit, and the highway was never built.

Hastert also forced through the Medicare prescription-drug bill by presiding over the nearly three-hour vote in the dead of night that the rules limited to 15 minutes. The Rules Committee squashed amendments from both Democrats and Republicans with rare conferences late at night and closed to anyone except Hastert’s loyal followers. Provisions, neither in House or Senate bills, were added without notice to lawmakers.

Throughout all the chicanery, Hastert kept a quiet demeanor and stayed away from most Sunday talk shows. Reporters largely ignored his presence while he managed to guide the country into the disaster that exists today.

Where Hastert goes from here, no one knows. His arraignment on financial charges, originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been moved to next Tuesday, June 9. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin, who contributed $1,500 to Hastert’s campaign before taking the bench and is the brother of Illinois House GOP Leader Jim Durkin.

Haley Barbour, former RNC chairman, said about the indictment for paying hush money to the former Speaker of the House because he had sex with a teenager and then lied about it to the FBI:

“It doesn’t matter a bit politically. Democrats hope it does, but I don’t think so.”

The Wall Street Journal questioned the charges against Hastert from “busybody agencies” such as the FBI and IRS,” and NBC’s Pete Williams called the charges purely “technical.” This weekend, on the Sunday talk shows, moderators and reporters raked the prosecution over the coals. NBC News correspondent Pete Williams called the charges against Hastert purely “technical.” ABC’s Dan Abrams and Fox network’s Brit Hume think that “derivative crimes” are minor issues, similar to lying under oath—the charge that Hastert used to impeach President Clinton.

Seventeen years ago, Republicans said that derivative crimes were important, regardless of context, because no one was above the law. Hastert, House deputy majority whip, agreed, and voted to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to investigate Clinton. The committee must “uncover the truth” and “uphold the rule of law,” said Hastert. “Sweeping the matter under the rug just won’t work.” With his votes for impeachment, he declared that the president was not “above the law.” Sixteen years ago, when President Clinton was acquitted, Hastert said, “Republicans in the Congress can be proud that they stood by the principles that have made this nation strong.” The first principle he cited was “respect for the rule of law.”

Now the question is whether Hastert is above the law. Will he be able to conceal his own wrongdoings? I’m guessing yes, because conservatives are usually successful in this area.

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