Nel's New Day

June 13, 2020

DDT: Week 177 – Beyond Well-Publicized Disasters

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) worries about re-election—his only focus—he has Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to protect him from the International Criminal Court.

Afraid the International Criminal Court will discover U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, DDT signed an national emergency executive order allowing him to threaten economic sanctions and visa travel restrictions on its staff. That includes any foreign person in human rights organizations researching and reporting on criminal activity if it is used by the ICC, for example a Netherlands-based group investigating rape and torture by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and at CIA interrogation sites. Unlike most allies, the United States is not part of the Rome Statute creating the ICC, but Afghanistan is. The U.S. could handle torture internally but has not tried any “rendition program” cases. The current CIA chief, Gina Haspel, ran an agency black site using “interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding. An analysis from David Scheffer, first U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues:

“The argument essentially boils down to the contrarian view that U.S. forces and intelligence personnel can commit atrocity crimes inside any of the 123 states parties of the Rome Statute (including all but one NATO ally, every country of the European Union, all of South America, and much of Africa, East Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean) without accountability before the ICC.”

DDT coordinated the sanctions with Israel during Pompeo’s visit to Jerusalem last month after ICC’s prosecutor opened an investigation about Israel’s alleged crimes in the West Bank and Gaza. Although briefings did not mention the plot, Israeli officials leaked the information. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought Yuval Steinitz, leader of the team countering the ICC investigation, to the meeting, and the two countries continued the secret coordination on the issue since Pompeo’s visit.

Federal officials are hiding information about their distribution of $511 billion taxpayer monies to “small businesses” despite promising in mid-April to make the information public. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called the data “proprietary” and “confidential information” during a Senate hearing and did not require any proof for need and eligibility from applicants. Eleven news organizations are suing for information about amounts and recipients. 

Congress assigned three bodies to oversee the $2.3 trillion law: a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR); the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee with inspectors general from the agencies involved in the bill  under the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency; and a congressional oversight commission. After an agreement to the oversight, DDT made a signing statement erasing it in a claim that it violated the separation of powers and the rights of the president.

Often accused of no empathy, DDT’s accusation about the police brutality toward a 75-year-old peace activist went as viral as the police assault on Martin Gugino. DDT got falsehoods from the evidence-free right-wing, Russia-related One America News Network after two police officers in Buffalo shoved the man to the sidewalk and left him bleeding from the head. DDT’s tweet:

“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN  I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

Gugino approached a police officer with his cellphone in his right hand, and police yelled, “Push him. Push him.” After nine days, Gugino is out of the hospital but can’t walk because of his skull fracture. The two officers are facing assault charges. Russian national Kristian Rouz, author of the false story, also writes for the Kremlin-owned news outlet Sputnik. Rouz puts Kremlin propaganda into his articles without explaining the “allegations” are hoaxes from Vladimir Putin and associates. 

Vincent D’Andraia, facing multiple charges including misdemeanor assault and menacing against a woman, became the first NYPD officer arrested for police brutality in the protests. The woman said she was peacefully protesting when D’Andraia told her to get out of the street. When she asked why, he pushed her and called her a “stupid f—— b—-” before he hit her cell phone out of her hand and violently shoved her to the ground and into the curb. The woman was hospitalized and treated for a seizure and concussion. Afterward, D’Andraia, his lieutenant, and several other officers who were watching kept on walking.

Minnesota’s Department of Safety and the Anoka County Sheriff’s office admitted troopers and deputies slashed tires on cars during protests in Minneapolis after presented with video reports. The state spin:

“State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires … in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement.”

Several journalists found their tires slashed, including Andrew Kimmel, a Los Angeles TV and documentary maker, with cut tires on his rental car. Officers promised to watch the car of New Yorker writer Luke Mogelson. He returned to find his tires cut and the officers “laughing” with “grins on their faces.”

Posts from Lt. Robert Gamin, president of the Brevard (Florida county) Fraternal Order of Police, promoted more police brutality recruiting law enforcement members suspended, fired, or arrested for violent behavior. He deleted the posts and “apologized,” saying he was frustrated.

Congress gave Customs and Border Protection funding for food and medicine after migrants kept dying. The agency spent the funding on dirt bikes and ATVs before trying to conceal it in the wrong budget categories.

Failing to react to DDT’s acceptance and even promotion of police brutality, most GOP legislators use the same policy as the willful blindness from the mythical three monkeys: hear no evil; see no evil; speak no evil. Reporters, tired of legislators expressing ignorance of anything DDT says, printed out DDT’s tweet about Martin Gigino to show Republicans. Most of those asked for responses refused to look at the post and declined to answer as they dashed away.  

Yesterday’s spike in the stock market replaced over one-fourth of its plunge from the day before. Investors bought after Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said he’s “not the health expert” but “there is no second spike …. No second wave” of COVID-19. Roughly half the states show significant spikes. My own small county on the Oregon coast went from ten cases less than three weeks ago to almost 200 by today partly from an outbreak from fish processing plant Pacific Seafoods—workers, friends, family, etc. Fourteen months before the current recession starting in February—before COVID-19 hit—Kudlow said he couldn’t see a recession. Kudlow isn’t an economist either. Back in the time of George W. Bush, Kudlow Kudlow denied the housing bubble and said at the beginning of Bush’s recession, “There’s no recession coming.” In early March this year, Kudlow also said the virus was “contained” and the economy “looks sound.” Kudlow isn’t an economist either.

Because of COVID-19, DDT shut down four of his five top-earning hotels and resorts, leading to laying off or furloughing 2,800 employees with the loss of tens of millions of dollars. Revenues weren’t good before the virus, and he couldn’t even pay $20,833 per month rental fee for his golf club in Pine Hill (NJ). The new COVID-19 law keeps him from making up revenue from the government, but Great Britain plans to give him an almost £1m tax rebate for his Scottish golf courses. Both resorts avoided corporation taxes because of heavy losses’ reports, supposedly £155m in 2018. Democrats in the House asked for documents regarding loans and other funds by May 21 regarding the bailout funds as a possible gift from a foreign government but received no responses.

The latest Trump book covers Melania. Among other topics, Mary Jordan’s The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump explains the First Lady waited to move into the White House to negotiate her prenup. Her marital problems are no business of anyone else except for the exorbitant cost to taxpayers. Flights on Air Force jets during the first three months of her 2017 sequestration in New York cost $676,635, and security at Trump Tower expenses averaged between $127,000 and $146,000—a day. Melania didn’t move to the White House for almost five months, and Secret Service received an additional $60 million to protect DDT’s family. A WaPo article describes Jordan’s view of Melania Trump’s mythmaking the media has swallowed, debunked through over 100 interviews with her associates. Jordan said, “She is . . . much more like DDT than it appears.”

Frustrated by CNN’s polling and disappointed by ones from Fox, DDT went to evidence-free OAN promising him one that “looks as though it will be in favor of” the president. After using loaded questions to move approval to DDT, the poll came out a perfect 50-50 split in Florida, a statistical improbability. It also gives a lead to DDT among undecided voters—which makes Joe Biden a lead among decided voters. The poll came out with an article accusing the “deep state” working with Democrats to create polls demoralizing GOP voters.

On June 13, another 25,000+ COVID-19 cases for a total of 2,142,224 with 117,527 deaths.

 

December 25, 2019

Christmas by DDT, GOP

The purpose of Christmas, December 25, is to commemorate the birth of Christ—although he was likely born in spring. (December doesn’t have any lambs.) Those who celebrate the birth of Jesus glorify a refugee family of color fleeing fear of persecution as described in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew about the “flight into Egypt” from Bethlehem (Mt 2:12-15) to escape the infant’s slaughter by King Herod.  Later Jesus said that welcoming the stranger means welcoming Jesus (Matt. 25), a religious superseding of any laws designed to hinder, prevent, or outlaw care and compassion for refugees and migrants. He also told people to feed the hungry, sell possessions, and give the money to the poor while treating people with the love, generosity, and kindness that he modeled.

Oliver Willis with Media Matters tweeted:

“If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about middle eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”

[Check out Jesus and refugees on the internet to see conservatives blowing up at the very mention of this connection!]

On Christmas Day 2019, some people celebrate the refugee family, others the day’s culture of exchanging gifts and eating large meals. Yet millions of people in the United States lack the privileges of secure housing, food, and employment. Those who are safe might think of the disadvantages and misery caused by GOP lawmakers for almost two decades.

 

GOP policies have two major characteristics: give to the rich and take from anyone else because they are considered sub-human.

Adam Serwer’s 2018 essay “The Cruelty Is the Point,” published in The Atlantic, uses photographs of lynchings to illustrate shared pleasure from other people’s suffering. White men surrounding the hanging people enjoyed what they saw, just as lawmakers are pleased with their own cruelty from punitive laws toward those they view as “others.” People who don’t receive aid often resent those on programs such as food stamps, accusing them of being lazy and weak. The U.S. saves only $1.1 billion a year with the new rules taking food stamps from hungry people compared to the $1.3542 trillion expenditure for the military. has a minimal cost, compared to the wealth accruing to the top percentage of people in the U.S. from the tax cuts.

The first year that the tax cut for the wealthy and big business went into effect, businesses spent over $1 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payment, more than one-hundred times the savings from making people go hungry. The explosive budget deficit from these tax cuts makes GOP lawmakers complicit with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to take even more from the poor with the excuse of balancing the budget.

On the southern border, the federal government tear gasses refugees and drives them back to Mexico to be raped and killed. Before the courts prevented family separation, the government separated families with no records of how to reunite them and put children in cages where they might be sexually assaulted. These are refugees like Jesus and his parents.

Because the conservatives on the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion from the Affordable Care Act optional for states, they can reject the provision that gave 90 percent of the expansion funding to states from the federal government. ACA funding allows states to reduce aid to hospitals for uncompensated costs and raises state tax revenues from a boosted economy. Yet 14 GOP-controlled states, several of them the poorest in the nation, turned down the neutral or even net positive expansion. Some of these states want to limit Medicaid even more with stringent work requirements, another action costing states money. The goal isn’t to make money; it’s to punish people by making their lives worse.

GOP lawmakers want to take Medicaid from everyone and cause others to lose health care—at least 20 million people by eliminating the ACA. People who lose health care can lose their work because of poor health and then their homes from bankruptcies through unreasonable expenses, causing less tax revenue. Without the ACA, older people will pay far more for prescriptions and health care premiums. Part of the ACA is to eliminate fraud and corruption in Medicare and Medicaid–$4 billion in its first year of 2011—but GOP lawmakers want continued corruption to benefit their big business donors.

DDT’s open hatred makes cruelty more acceptable. He doesn’t like Puerto Rico so his followers accept his refusal to send them aid appropriated by Congress. He wants the money sent instead to Texas and Florida, states that added to his electoral college total. DDT wants to support Russia, who interferes in U.S. elections on the part of Republicans so he threatens Ukraine by withholding military aid that would help Ukraine fight Russia. His followers echo DDT’s lying excuse of fighting “corruption” while accepting the massive corruption that DDT has brought to the federal government.  

DDT accepts indiscriminate killing and violence, whether in the U.S. or foreign countries. He refused to criticize Saudi Arabia for torturing and dismembering a U.S. resident and journalist and pardoned war criminals to use on his campaign trail. In his speeches and tweets, he encourages violence against his opposition, pretending surprise when his supporters carry out the violence and killing.

In its incessant worship of mammon, a greedy search for gain, DDT’s government kills people by eliminating regulations for greedy big businesses. Developed by the Nazis as a nerve gas, the pesticide chlorpyrifos causes brain damage in children, Parkinson’s disease, and forms of cancer.  Yet the EPA allows the chemical on fruits and vegetables, a chemical also dangerous for farmworkers and rural communities. Judges ordered a ban on chlorpyrifos in 2018, but chemical companies have EPA permission to keep making it—and money—as long as the case is in the courts. Actions from other agencies in favor of big business are equally destructive for humanity.

DDT not only rejects any thought of fighting climate change but also ridicules children who want to save the world for their future. He and his followers have been particularly vicious about the protests of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old leader who ignores the GOP lawmakers’ push to give to the rich at any cost to everyone else.

Well-known for ridiculing disabled people, DDT mocks them at his rallies, and his sycophants follow suit. Highly religious Sarah Huckabee Sanders, hoping to be Arkansas’ governor, made fun of Joe Biden when he tried to explain the suffering of people who stutter. A GOP proposed rule change would take disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people through further complicating Social Security eligibility payments. Ronald Reagan’s similar benefit cut took earned benefits from 200,000 people; he reversed the attack after public outcry protesting human suffering and death. The addition of a fourth disability category affecting 4.4 million recipients, many of them children and people 50-65 with poor health and no income, requires reviews every two years although health issues worsen with age.  

Throughout his almost three years, DDT has turned on LGBTQ people, literally making them sick. A meta-analysis of 300 scientific studies in the U.S. shows overwhelming evidence that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity damages the health of LGBTQ people. Mental health problems include depression, anxiety, suicide, and PTSD while physical problems include substance use, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In states implementing “license to discriminate” laws, “the proportion of sexual minority adults reporting mental distress increased by 10.1 percentage points.” These effects are “compounded” for LGBTQ people of color, queer youth, and transgender people. Again, poor health takes from tax revenue and adds to costs for care. Poor health from discrimination will also affect immigrants, people of color, the poor, and everyone else suffering from discrimination.

Laughter at cruelty is rampant among DDT’s followers—his mocking Puerto Rican accents after thousands were killed by Hurricane Maria, women talking about sexual abuse, calls to “lock her up,” ridicule of opponents’ Christian faith—there seems to be no low bar for DDT’s abuse of humanity and his supporters admiration of his cruelty. Cruelty is the new norm for DDT’s supporters.

People who defend DDT worship him because “he tells it like it is.” On Christmas Day 2019, this is “like it is.” It’s Christmas Day: Jesus was an immigrant refugee and person of color who wouldn’t like the way that Republicans are running the United States. As DDT’s acting chief of staff would say, “Get over it.” And maybe try to do better.

In Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge had an epiphany after visits from the ghost of his former business partner and three spirits—Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. On Christmas 2019, we can only hope for a similar epiphany in 2020.

 

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