Nel's New Day

August 24, 2019

DDT: Week 135 – Gone Crazy

August used to be a slow time for federal politics. Congress went back to their constituents, and the president went on vacation. Little happened. Not with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Jennifer Rubin summarized the past seven days in her Washington Post column:

“In the last week or so, we’ve witnessed President Trump deny there is a threat of recession; blame the Federal Reserve chairman for raising interest rates too high (!); deny, then admit, and then finally reject consideration of cuts to either payroll taxes or a capital-gains taxes. We’ve seen him seriously consider ‘buying’ Greenland, then cancel a trip to Denmark, and then finally insult Denmark’s female prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, whom Trump characterized as ‘nasty’ (his all-purpose insult to women who won’t do his bidding), and claimed that when she says his idea about purchasing Greenland was ‘absurd,’ she is offending the United States. He’s called Jews disloyal on consecutive days and proclaimed himself the ‘chosen one’ (or should it be ‘Chosen One’?), though he still insists the trade deficit means China has ‘sucked’ hundreds of billions of dollars out of our economy. He insists that kicking Russia out of the Group of 8 for its invasion of Ukraine was an overreaction by President Barack Obama (I guess that is what he means) and should be reversed.”

Dana Milbank pointed out that “along the way, he used shooting victims for self-promotion, said he wanted a medal for military valor, and more.” 

DDT also said he might sign an executive order to overturn part of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment guaranteeing U.S. birthright citizenship. For over 150 years, the constitution has declared:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality birthright in 1898. Despite DDT’s lies, over 30 countries have birthright citizenship.  More details here.

DDT may intend these insane actions as a distraction from publicity about his lies regarding his 2018 filings about the profit and value of his Scotland golf courses by $165 million. He claimed an income of $23.8 million, $31.1 million more than the loss of $6.3 million filed in Edinburgh. Instead of the over $50 million profit filed in the U.S., the balance sheets filed in the UK show debt exceeding assets by $64.8 million. DDT’s U.S. disclosure statement omitted $199.5 million in loans he made to those resorts, $54.9 million from himself personally to Trump International, Scotland in Aberdeenshire and $144.6 million from his trust to Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire. False or incomplete information on the U.S. form violates the Ethics in Government Act punishable by up to a year in jail. Alan Garten, Trump Organization Chief Legal Officer Alan Garten, responded that the two forms are filed under different accounting and legal standards. DDT has consistently filed forms with false and missing information.

After those disasters, DDT flew to France for what French President Emmanuel Macron, leader of the G7 Summit, calls the G6+1 Summit because of DDT’s refusal last year to sign the group’s joint resolution—the first time the group lacked consensus since it was formed in 1975. Macron doesn’t expect a unanimous joint resolution this year, citing “a very deep crisis of democracy” and calling it a “pointless” exercise. Joining DDT and Macron at Biarritz (France) are leaders of Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Much to DDT’s dismay, Russia was removed from the former G8 after he militarily annexed Crimea and continues to support anti-Kiev rebels fighting the Ukrainian government. DDT’s sole goal at the summit is to reinstate Russia despite Russia’s interference in the U.S. elections, past and present. DDT blames President Obama for Russia’s loss of membership “because he got outsmarted.” 

DDT bragged that the EU will give him anything he wants if he threatens to tariff European cars. Earlier this year, DDT made a deal to send U.S. beef to Europe duty-free in an effort to make up for the tariffs for his trade war with China.

According to Macron, a chief issue at the summit will be Brazil’s 85 percent increase in fires, half of them in the Amazon, which he called an “international crisis.” Water vapor from the Amazon rainforest help circulate water and weather patterns around the world, and it provides 20 percent of oxygen in the world. Loss of the rainforest causes acceleration in higher temperatures in the world and huge erradication of species found only there. Many of the 74,155 illegal fires in the rainforest—one new one each minute—are likely caused by cattle-farmers trying to clear more land. An avid deforester, Brazil’s far right president Jair Bolsonaro, called “the Trump of South America,” nicknamed himself “Captain Chainsaw.” Furious about the interference in his fires, he reluctantly said he would send in the military to fight fires for a month after Macron threatened to cancel a major trade deal between European and South American countries. 

While DDT tries to keep his voting base, polls ranking him overall between 36 percent and 43 percent all show an average two-percent reduction in his approval. that his approval is dropping. According to a recent AP poll, he is also underwater in approval about his handling these specific issues:

  • Economy (before his problems the past few days) – 46 percent
  • Immigration – 38 percent
  • Health care – 37 percent
  • Foreign policy – 36 percent
  • Gun policy – 36 percent

Other polls show that fewer racially intolerant people want to vote in the 2020 election that voters who don’t believe that whites are superior to blacks. In the midst of DDT’s racist rants, people in the U.S. are less likely to have feelings of racial anxiety and more likely to empathize with blacks, even among the demographics of white citizens and whites without college degrees. Whites are also 19 percent more supportive of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrations and four percent less supportive of increased deportations than in 2015. Only 29 percent of whites agreed that “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage,” down seven points from August 2017 and nine points down from August 2018. Fewer whites and white Republicans think “white people are currently under attack in this country.”

While DDT causes more problems with his trade war, almost two-thirds of people want free trade now. The 27 percent of people who oppose free trade is down ten points since DDT started his trade war with China in 2017. Only eight percent of voters think DDT kept all his promises. Half of them, including 60 percent of independents think the reason is that he’s “distracted by other unimportant priorities like petty disagreements and Twitter.”

State polls give a darker picture than overall one. His approval rates are below disapproval in at least ten states where he got 189 electoral votes in 2016, several of the difference over ten points. In 2016, DDT took his winning 46 electoral votes in the three states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin where he won by only 77,744 popular votes for all three states. 

DDT’s two main points for his campaign are immigration and the economy. His immigration policies are becoming increasing unpopular, and the economy is headed for serious problem unless he stops his trade war—an unlikely solution for him. He also returns from France to face calls for gun safety legislation. Enthusiastic about fighting mass shootings after two of them in one weekend, he has dropped the idea after several long talks with NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre. Over 70 percent of people support laws that would allow the removal of guns if the owners were considered by courts or law enforcement of being in danger of harming themselves or others.

A poll of suburban white women, a demographic that DDT wants back, reveals the following:

  • 72 percent: Gun laws should be stricter. said they think gun laws should be stricter, compared to four
  • 90 percent: Gun sales at gun shows and other private sales should require universal background checks; all gun owners should file with a national firearms registry.  
  • 88 percent: A 48-hour waiting period should be mandated between a firearm purchase and taking possession.  
  • 84 percent: Law enforcement should be permitted to temporarily retain firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves.
  • 76 percent: Purchase and use of semi-automatic assault-style weapons like the AK-47 and the AR-15 should be banned.
  • And 72 percent: Sale and possession of high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines, which allow guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before needing to be reloaded, should be banned.

The 2020 campaign may pick up in the next few months: four Republicans—radio host Joe Walsh, former Arizona senator Jeff Flake, former South Carolina governor and representative Mark Sanford (think Appalachian Trail), and former Ohio governor John Kasich—consider joining former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld in opposition to DDT’s candidacy for the 2020 presidency.

July 8, 2016

We Need to Save Both Blacks, Police

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY) husband was killed in a mass shooting in 1993, the same horrific event that seriously wounded her son. Elected to Congress four years later, she fought for gun safety legislation. Not until 2007 did she succeed—in a small way. During the last session before winter holiday recess that year, Congress passed a law requiring federal agencies to keep up-to-date records on people who might be disqualified from purchasing guns such as those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for more than a year, and those with documented mental health issues.  Other than a vote to renew a ban on plastic firearms in 2013, that’s the last gun safety legislation that got through Congress. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have died because of firearms, and the number of mass shootings are drastically increasing.

After the 50 deaths from a shooter in an Orlando nightclub on June 12, House Speaker Paul Ryan still refused to bring any gun safety bills to the floor. Fed up with continued inaction on the public health issue of deaths from guns, a majority of the House Democrats began a 25-hour sit-in on the chamber floor on June 22. At this time, Ryan has said that “all options” were being considered to discipline sit-in participants for their protests.

Ryan also promised to bring a gun bill approved by the NRA for a vote but then pulled it. He said, “We’re not going to rush it…. We’re going to get it right.”That was the day after two black men were murdered by police officers and the same day that a sniper murdered five Dallas (TX) police officers and wounded nine other people, seven of them police officers. The same week Ryan changed his mind, family members killed each other, and there were a variety of “smaller” mass shootings.

After a 15-hour filibuster by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), the Senate voted on four bills–two of them supported by Democrats and the other two that would make no change. All four of them failed when the GOP voted against change and the Democrats refused to support do-nothing bills.

This past week, President Obama has been forced to make two painful speeches about horrific gun deaths—the first one after police killed two black men and the next after the deaths of five law enforcement officers in Dallas. During the second speech, he said that at some point people will need to think about the “powerful weapons” that help these deadly shootings. He said this after he expressed his horror at the “vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement” and his support for law enforcement. He will cut short his diplomatic mission to Europe intended to smooth over foreign relations after the British Brexit fiasco in order to visit Dallas.

The president was immediately attacked for getting “political” (Ben Carson) because people need guns to “defend themselves from an overly aggressive government.” Another former GOP presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, wanted the president to emulate President Ronald Reagan’s speech after the Challenger disaster as if killing police and space shuttle disasters are the same. Actually, Reagan supported a universal background check, a seven-day waiting period before buying guns, and a ban on assault-weapons.

Since 2000, an average of 50 police officers have been deliberately killed each year. In contrast, the first six months of 2016 saw police kill 532 people, many of them unarmed, mentally ill, and people of color. About half of them were white, but black people and Native Americans are killed at higher rates than any other ethnic group. For example, 31 percent of people killed by police in 2012 were black although blacks comprise only 13 percent of the population.

The vast majority of these officers who killed people will receive minor or no punishment; not one officer was convicted of murder or manslaughter in 2015 when the police killed 1,200 people. An example is Freddie Gray, apprehended on April 12, 2015 because he allegedly possessed an illegal switchblade. He was alive when he was put into a van with no seatbelt; when the van arrived at the station, he was in a coma from a spinal injury that led to his death seven days later. Thus far, three of the six police officers involved in Gray’s death have been exonerated despite evidence to the contrary.

The most recently publicized death of a black man shot by a police officer was that of Philando Castile. He legally owned a gun and had a concealed carry permit, issued by Minnesota, for the gun. When the police stopped him for a broken tail light, he said that he had a permit. The police officer ordered Castile to show him his ID, Castile reached for his wallet to get it and was instantly shot dead. Castile, 32, had worked for the St. Paul Public Schools for 13 years, becoming a kitchen supervisor two years ago. He was shot and died in front of his girlfriend and the girlfriend’s four-year-old daughter. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said in his speech that the killing was at least in part because of Castile’s death.

The NRA, pushed into a statement two days after Castile’s killing, said only that there should be an investigation. The organization most likely wants to avoid controversy about black men who are killed while carrying guns because studies show the relationship between white identity and opposition to gun control. The NRA said nothing about the police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge (LA) the day before Castile’s death after Sterling was thrown on the ground by two police officers because he was selling CDs in front of a convenience store. He didn’t draw his gun, but he was killed when the police shot him multiple times.

Sterling’s and Castile’s deaths set off protests, mostly peaceful and without incident, throughout the nation. Even the one in Dallas (TX), with about 800 protesters, was peaceful. After they started to disperse, a lone sniper, an Army veteran with an honorary discharge who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, killed five police officers and wounded seven other people with an assault weapon. The sniper was killed by the police with an armed bomb-disposal robot.

Only one person was involved in the killing although the police announced other suspects. They even posted his photo online asking people to help them find the suspect and left it there for almost 24 hours after he had turned himself in and they decided that he had nothing to do with the killings. His only crime was being a black man with a gun (although open carry is legal in Texas), but he’s now getting thousands of death threats.

In Portland (OR) a well-known Trump supporter pulled a gun on protesters, threatening them with it. He is well known for stalking and harassing people, filming them at leftist protests to put the video online with their names and addresses. The man had a round in the chamber of his gun that he used to sweep the crowd in front of him. He also had five other magazines of ammunition with him. Some of the protesters tried to calm him down and offered to take him out for coffee. As the incident ended, over a dozen police officers arrived in two trucks, and arrested him along with another man.

The Bahamas has issued a travel advisory for the United States, warning young men “to exercise extreme caution” in their “interactions with the police.”

A problem with passing legislation to make the country safer is the low bar for electing members of Congress. House Rules Chair Pete Sessions (R-TX) had earlier claimed that the Pulse nightclub, the location of the recent mass shooting, was not a “gay bar” although it described itself as the “hottest gay bar in Orlando.” Now he expresses concern that the Dallas police officers “let their guard down.” Perhaps we can’t expect much from a person who said in 2009 that House Republicans would look at “the Taliban” as a tactical model to take over Congress and that “everything we do in this body should be about messaging to win back the Senate.”

This philosophy aptly explains the reason behind the gridlock in the U.S. government reinforcing continued deaths from guns. It is guaranteed that Congress will hold a moment of silence for the five Dallas police officers killed this week. It’s probably also a guarantee that they won’t be commemorating the untimely death of Philando Castile—and the other people killed unnecessarily by the police.

“Black Americans shouldn’t be killed in routine traffic stops, and police shouldn’t be killed while protecting and serving their communities.”

Elizabeth Warren’s tweet succinctly provides the goal; now Congress needs to live up to it. They probably won’t.

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