Nel's New Day

September 5, 2022

News – September 4, 2022

A few catchups from the past week:

While Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) raves about a rigged election in a Pennsylvania rally, one of his own was convicted for trying to rig a siphoning scam to take votes from a Democratic candidate. The Seminole County (FL) GOP chair was found guilty of using his cousin as a “ghost” candidate,” an increasingly common practice in Florida, through putting a fake candidate on the ballot advertised as a progressive to take votes from the legitimate Democrat candidate. Floridian Republicans have also changed voter registrations from Democratic voters to the GOP without consent, and several Republicans in the retirement Villages voted twice. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has created state election police, but they are not investigating these election frauds. 

DeSantis’ election force has also not investigated him for another voter fraud, arresting 20 people with one of them dragged to jail in his underwear at 6:00 am. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported the right of released felons to vote, but GOP legislators said they had to first pay all their fees and fines. Chaos reigned with no system to let people know if they were ineligible to cast a ballot. DeSantis’ appointees approved the completed registration cards for felons so the duly registered ex-felons didn’t know they were disenfranchised. To convict those charged, prosecutors must prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the arrested people knew their votes were illegal. DeSantis just want to make eligible voters afraid to cast ballots, destroying democracy.

At least 150,000 Jackson (MS) residents continue to lack safe drinking water, and the mayor said they face “a much longer road ahead” before services are fully restored. Relying on bottled water, they can’t take baths, wash dishes, etc. The city said that “all of Jackson should now have pressure,” useless for most personal needs except flushing toilets. After decades of neglect, the Pearl River flooding set off problems at one of two water treatment plants, but residents had already been under a boil-water order when the pumps failed. The crisis is a combination of poor infrastructure, climate change, and systemic racism as a Democratic city government tried to deal with a Republican governor and state legislature.

The governor accused the city of mismanagement two months after the federal EPA system violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In March 2020, the EPA found the potential for bacteria such as E.Coli and issued an emergency order to fix the deficiencies. Jackson residents lost access to clean water for weeks in 2021 when the pipes froze. A fire knocked all five pumps at one treatment plant out of service, and last October lawyers sued for “hundreds if not thousands” of children being poisoned by lead in the water. As white people fled the city, 20,000 between 2000 and 2010, Jackson lost both tax revenue and institutional support as In 40 years, the population of Jackson dropped from 200,000 in 1980 and over from 50 percent white to 80 percent Black.    

The long tentacles of health care provided by the Catholic Church reaches farther than hospitals, as students at Ohio’s Oberlin College discovered last week. Campus student health services would provide contraception only for health problems other than preventing pregnancy, and only victims of sexual assault can receive emergency contraception. Oberlin outsourced the student health services to a Catholic health agency which follows religious directives prohibiting contraception to prevent pregnancy—and blocking gender-affirming care. The college developed an alternative plan to offer reproductive health services to students on campus, but some states’ guidelines are similar to the Catholic Church. About 40 percent of reproductive age women live “in areas with high or dominant Catholic hospital market share,” according to a researcher of data in 2020. Many people don’t realize that the Catholic Church controls their health care because the information is concealed. Options of patients, especially low-income ones, can be disproportionately restricted.

Texas spent $12.7 million to bus migrants to the East Coast–$1,400 per person. A one-way, same-day ticket from El Paso costs $291 to New York City and $324 to Washington, D.C., and same-day flights are under $400. Gov. Greg Abbott is asking for private donations for his project but received only $167,828 as of August 17. His goal is to “incite fear among Americans,” a typical Republican strategy, but busing saves migrants money by taking them closer to their destinations.

After DDT spent months attacking House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), warfare is breaking out between McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chair of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm. Like many other Republicans privately express, McConnell doubts the “quality” of DDT-picked candidates winning primaries, fearing both the Senate and House this year will be lost—again. Scott attacked McConnell in an op-ed for the conservative Washington Examiner, accusing “the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle” of “trash-talking our Republican candidates.” Without giving McConnell’s name, Scott’s message was clear, coming two weeks after McConnell expressed concern about the GOP taking back the Senate in 2022. Some of DDT’s infamous candidates for Senate are Blake Masters (AZ), Herschel Walker (GA), and Mehmet Oz (PA). Earlier this year, Scott irritated McConnell by releasing the radically-right “Plan to Rescue America” which alienated many affiliated voters.

Scott is also in trouble for the lack of money in the GOP Senate campaign arm. By the end of July, the committee collected a record $181.5 million but spent over 95 percent of it, $26 million just on texting people to donate. The remaining $23.2 million is less than half of the Democratic committee stash leading up to the November election in two months. Scott is getting blamed for not bringing in money, and his group is canceling bookings for advertising, ones they can’t get back even if they manage to raise the money.

The Senate funding committee decided to not pick anyone in the primaries after DDT’s endorsements. In the past decade, it avoided out-of-the mainstream nominees who might lose in the general election; this year many GOP candidates winning the primaries haven’t run for office before. Their negative, expensive primaries left favorable ratings underwater, and they trail in many battlegrounds with well-funded Democratic opponents. By mid-August, Dems outspent their opponents by four-to-one in Ohio, over double in Arizona, and almost two-to-one in Nevada as well as by $14 million in Georgia.  

Scott gained more notoriety by criticizing President Joe Biden’s Delaware “staycation” while on a luxury yacht in Italy during the Florida primaries. He claimed he had planned his trip to Italy long ago because of a wedding anniversary, but the primaries were also planned well in advance. Presidents typically take off a few weeks in August because of the annual congressional recess for the month, and Scott defrauded the government out of Medicare funds while CEO of a large Florida health system.

After 28 months, litigation about DDT’s financial records going to a House committee has reached a settlement: DDT’s former accounting firm Mazurs must turn over some records to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Records are narrowed to financial ties between DDT or his businesses with foreign countries for 2017-2018 and documents between November 2016 and 2018 for DDT’s company holding the lease with the federal government for the former Trump International Hotel. Earlier this year, Mazurs said it had fired DDT and that the firm’s financial statements prepared to DDT “should no longer be relied upon” because it used DDT’s figures.

Last month, despite DDT’s legal opposition, a three-judge appellate court agreed with a lower court decision that the Treasury Department should provide DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. DDT’s DOJ allowed former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to block the committee from obtaining the returns with the excuse that Democrats wanted them for partisan reason. The committee successfully renewed the request after Biden’s inauguration, seeking DDT’s tax returns and additional information from 2015 to 2020. 

A Virginia state judge dismissed two cases attempting to bar the public display and sale of two books the plaintiff alleged obscene under an obscure state law. By taking this action, the judge also struck down the law, finding it unconstitutional. Filing by lawyers, presently a GOP state assembly delegate and a former GOP congressional candidate, assert the award-winning graphic memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and well-reviewed A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas were “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” The statute does not allow for a work to be “obscene for minors” and failed to prove that the books are obscene at all. The plaintiffs’ declaration violated both the U.S. and the Virginia constitutions. One of the lawyers, who lost his June 21 primary for Congress by 40 points, tried to build a case for “parental rights.” John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, said that the plaintiffs tried to weaponize the use of obscenity laws against books that don’t “fit their worldview.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin providing abortions for beneficiaries if the person is endangered by pregnancy or the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. The VA has made this medical procedure available before but amended its regulations for safety reasons after the Supreme Court and states overturned Roe v. Wade. The rule will be available for a 30-day comment after being published on September 1.

December 30, 2021

Republicans Glory in Their Manufactured ‘Poor’ Economy

As 2021 ends, moans about inflation and people quitting their jobs fill the media. At the same time, the media ignores the booming economy. At the end of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) rule, the economy followed the trajectory of COVID, going downhill into a disaster that DDT worsened for his efforts to be reelected. Less than a year after the inauguration, the economy has turned around, despite the worsening COVID cases from variants caused by people who refused vaccinations. How good are things? Here’s some indication.

Part of the change comes from President Joe Biden putting money into the hands of the poor and middle-class instead of using DDT’s approach to provide trillions to big business and the wealthy. His stimulus bill, passed only by Democrats but later touted by Republicans with their constituents prevented the recession and dropped unemployment to 4.2 percent. National economic consultant Robert J. Shapiro described “extraordinary gains” of the first three quarters of 2021:

“Real GDP increased at a 7.8 percent annual rate—that’s adjusted for the current inflation. The Federal Reserve expects real growth of 5.9 percent for all of 2021, followed by another 3.8 percent increase in 2022.”

By contrast, the real GOP grew at an annual average rate of 2.2 percent, never reaching even three percent, in the two previous decades. In this year’s stock market, the S&P Index, reporting the most diversified stocks, jumped 21.7 percent from January 20, Biden’s inauguration day, to December 7, 2021. People’s disposable income grew three percent after inflation between January and October compared to 0.5 percent increase in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2018. Since January, unemployment fell by one-third, and wages climbed.

U.S. economic output jumped over seven percent in the last quarter of 2021, and overall growth for the year should be about six percent with another four percent increase in 2022—the highest increases in decades. During the same period, China’s growth is predicted at 4 percent and the Eurozone at two percent. U.S. companies have profit margins of 15 percent, higher than since 1950. Matthew A. Winkler wrote:  

“[The U.S. is] outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century, and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….” 

The jobless rate dropped from 6.2 percent in February, Biden’s first month in office, to 4.2 percent. His administration created 4.1 million jobs, more than new jobs in the 12 years of George W. Bush and DDT. Biden is the only president over the past half century with robust increases in non-farm payrolls (4.3 percent) and manufacturing jobs (2.6 percent). approaching the gains enjoyed by Carter in general employment (4.6%) and factory workers (3.9%).

Wages in the U.S. are increasing at an annual rate of four percent compared with under one percent in the Eurozone. The American Rescue Plan, passed by only Democrats in March cut child poverty in half when it put $66 billion into 36 million households. Over 4.6 million more people have insurance because of the Affordable Care Act—a total of 13.6 million insured people under the law. On Biden’s inauguration day, only 46 percent of the schools were open; now 99 percent are.

On the foreign-exchange market, the dollar strengthened 7.37 percent this year, the most under a presidential first year since Ronald Reagan. U.S. stocks outperformed the world equity market by 6.3 percentage points, the biggest advantage since 1988.   

Biden’s ratings in market and economic indicators for his first year when compared to seven previous presidents–no one matching Biden’s combination of No. 1 and No. 2 rankings:

  • Gross domestic product (1)
  • Profit growth (1)
  • S&P 500 performance (2)
  • Consumer credit (1)
  • Non-farm payrolls (2)
  • Manufacturing jobs (2)
  • Business productivity (2)
  • Dollar appreciation (2)
  • S&P 500 relative performance (2)

November saw the passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to repair roads and bridges while getting broadband to areas lacking it. Over 93 percent of House Republican and 62 percent of GOP senators refused to support the infrastructure bill although many of them are now taking credit with its benefits when talking to their constituents. The law will help 2022 because it creates jobs. Republicans voted against it to keep Biden from positive publicity.

The only complaint people seem to have about Biden’s economy seems to be inflation, at 6.8 percent in November and the highest in 39 years. Yet gas prices are falling, under $3 a gallon in 12 states and $.25 a gallon lower in 36 U.S. cities, with skyrocketing gasoline inventories.  

The media were traumatized by problems with the supply chain, but 99 percent of packages arrived on time for the holiday, an improvement over the past two years. While U.S. major ports process almost one-fifth more containers in volume than two years earlier, European port container traffic stayed flat or declined. Consumer goods moved off the shelves at a 45 percent higher rate than in 2018, and expenditures is estimated at 11.5 percent more for the holiday season than a year ago. Consumer demand was a huge problem for the global supply chain bottlenecks.

According to polls, 63 percent said they think the nation’s economy is in bad shape because of bad news, and only 19 percent hear the good news about the economy. Part of that comes from how GOP congressional members have falsely convinced 91 percent of their party that the U.S. economy is in fair/poor condition. 

Why are people complaining about higher prices? Medications, rentals, houses costs, health insurance, etc.—the prices for all these have gone through ceiling for several years, but the media has never pushed them as “inflation.” At the same time, wages stayed largely static, but most people didn’t view these problems as a crisis. Now even with inflation outpacing the current wage increases, the bottom 60 percent of workers have more money left over than during pre-pandemic.

Publicity about inflation is being sensationalized by corporate lobbying groups such as the Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to promote conservatism. Corporate media looks for one family drinking 48 gallons of milk to push the idea of milk inflation, actually higher a decade ago, or complaints about gas prices, again higher a decade ago, by someone driving an older gas-guzzler. Corporations wanting to lower wages falsely state salary increases for lower-paid workers causes inflation. Yet the following issues are not addressed in the mainstream media:

Inflation by the Top: Corporate greed and power are jacking up the prices for the wealthy who can then spend tens of millions of dollars in speculation and purchasing “digital art” only on their computers. Income gains for the rich far outpaced inflation.

Corporate Consolidation: A few companies dominate the market for essential goods such as diapers and meat and insulin. At the same time, Republicans fight any kind of regulation to control unreasonable increases in prices.

Wars and Fossil Fuels: Despite fear mongering about government spending, the deficit, and inflation, Congress is delighted to pass a military budget larger than presidents’ requests. For political reasons, some presidents also start wars with the hopes they will provide reelection. Gas prices are also highly volatile because they are controlled in the Middle East, but conservatives fight clean energy which is less liable to inflation.

Health Care and Housing Costs: Conservative lawmakers refuse pass laws to address long-term inflation: healthcare costs have risen faster in the past 30 years than in any other sector, but conservatives won’t control drug prices.  

The Fed Tradeoff: The Federal Reserve requirement to maintain price stability and maximum employment is managed largely by adjusting interest rates and buying government bonds. Sixteen months ago, Chair Jerome Powell changed its inflation policy. Instead of keeping interest rates high leading to low inflation and keeping unemployment high enough to block worker bargaining power, he kept low interest rates to reach full employment with concern for high inflation. At this time, higher interest rates would slow market recovery; higher inflation is less devastating than mass unemployment. 

Price Controls: Congress could lower inflation without mass unemployment if it created price controls, used in the past during wartime. This move would block corporations from jacking up prices beyond the increased cost of input to report huge profits. During the first nine months of 2021, the world’s biggest fossil fuel corporations made $174 billion in profits–$74.9 net income for two dozen of them in just the third quarter.

Climate Change: Conservatives refuse to recognize the existence of global warming, but food prices have gone up because of changes in crop yield.

It’s to the advantage of Republicans to keep inflation high because it helps their chances of having majorities in the legislators. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called it a “gold mine.”  Just like using a strategy of promoting COVID infections and deaths to make Democrats look bad, conservatives care nothing for people. They just want to keep their position and gather wealth. And like COVID, they won’t fix it if they become the majority party.

November 7, 2020

DDT Golfs, Rants; Biden Goes to Work

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Today, the media announced Joe Biden as president-elect, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) played golf. Thus far, Biden reached 290 Electoral College votes with the extra 20 from Pennsylvania; Georgia leans toward Biden, and North Carolina toward DDT. Loser DDT scheduled few official activities since he spent unknown millions of taxpayer dollars campaigning throughout the country after he wasted his $1.1 billion of campaign donations.

Tonight VP-elect Kamala Harris set the tone for Biden’s presidency by saying “You chose hope, unity, science, and yes, truth.” Biden’s following speech gave the same uplifting messages with encouraging emphases on unity, family, recovery from COVID-19, a good economy, and diversity. Instead of DDT’s promises to support only his supporters and hatefully retaliate against everyone else, Biden said he would be a president for everyone.

With only 74 days left to damage the United States, DDT started by firing people for insufficient “loyalty,” starting with Bonnie Glick, Senate-confirmed deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to cripple the $31 billion agency during the pandemic and presidential transition. Her replacement for acting deputy is John Barsa, on his last legal day as USAID acting administrator. Mark Green, who quit in April, was never permanently replaced for Barsa’s former job of Assistant Administrator for Latin America. Others are Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. He also intends to dump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, CIA Secretary Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The White House polished off its losing week in the 2020 general election with another outbreak of COVID-19 of at least five aides, including Mark Meadows, DDT’s chief of staff, and Nick Trainer, election numbers cruncher. No one knows when Meadows tested positive because he told people not to tell anyone about it. He was with DDT on Air Force One for the 13-state campaign swing last Sunday and Monday and mingled with the 150 aides, family members, donors, and allies at the White House when DDT appeared in the dead of night to falsely declare he had won the election. Meadows told DDT he could win if he lied about voter fraud. Also arguing against mask-wearing and social distancing, Meadows said, “We’re not going to control the pandemic” on CNN’s State of the Union.

Satisfied with his reelection, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has gone back to nefarious methods of keeping DDT in the Oval Office. With no evidence, Graham said the “allegations of wrongdoing” in Pennsylvania “are earth shattering.” The plot is convincing Republican state legislators to name representatives to the Electoral College who will vote for DDT instead of permitting these people to be chosen by the voters in the states. Far-right radio host sent out this call:

“REMINDER TO THE REPUBLICAN STATE LEGISLATURES, YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY OVER THE CHOOSING OF ELECTORS, NOT ANY BOARD OF ELECTIONS, SECRETARY OF STATE, GOVERNOR, OR EVEN COURT. YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY—ARTICLE II OF THE FED CONSTITUTION. SO, GET READY TO DO YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY.”

According to legal authorities Lawrence Lessig and Jason Harrow, the Supreme Court has already ruled against this plan. The spokesperson for Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman reported declared the legislature will not be overriding the popular vote.

Steve Bannon, once DDT’s chief adviser and now indicted for defrauding “build the wall” donors, has lost his prominent lawyer after Bannon called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Bannon said he wants to put their “heads on pikes … at the two corners of the White House.” Twitter has also permanently banned him for posting a video of his statements, and YouTube removed his remarks.

The White House is going in three directions: (1) Aides are raging as they try to control DDT’s constant declaration of winning in the face of loss; (2) Meadows denies the possibility DDT can lose—and he’s sick; and (3) Other aides are out looking for jobs in an hostile environment.

The Fox network has supposedly told its “talent” to “stay away” from referring to Biden as the president-elect. Instead, they should talk about all DDT’s lawsuits contesting election results. The memo supposedly said the “votes must be certified” before Biden becomes “President-Elect” although the network used the term for DDT the day after the election. Fox denied the accusation, but CNN isn’t backing down. DDT and his aides “erupted at the news” after Fox called Arizona for Biden, but Rupert Murdoch refused to back down after he received a call to change the reporting. Over 500,000 Australians signed the petition to parliament complaining about Murdoch controlling 70 percent of newspaper circulation.

Yesterday, DDT tweeted a demand for the U.S. Supreme Court to discard 648,301 votes in Philadelphia with the allegation poll watchers could not monitor the counting. Some of his lying claims—including Republicans losing “zero races” in the House.They already lost 212 races with more pending. 

In Georgia, a man counting votes was forced into hiding after a video of him supposedly throwing away a ballot was on Facebook. The discarded item was actually a set of instructions. Another false Facebook post states ballots will be disqualified in Halton City if the poll worker writes on it. Texas law requires the poll worker to sign a ballot for authentication. And the lies go on.

On the Sunday before Election Day, DDT scrapped HealthCare.gov, the website access point for the Affordable Care Act, in Georgia. Residents must get their ACA health insurance through brokers or private websites also selling noncompliant coverage. CMS Administer Seema Verma lied about the website having “fewer options and skyrocketing premiums”; Georgia’s current uninsured rate dropped five points since the inception of ACA in 2013, and over 430,000 Georgians get health insurance through HealthCare.gov, mostly with premium subsidies. The state’s uninsured rate would be lower if the GOP had expanded Medicare for 240,000 people. Analysis shows the 25 percent of Georgia’s ACA employees, 50,000 people, who re-enroll in the same plan year after year will be forced to find new insurance. Georgia mandates work hours for health insurance in a recession with high unemployment and requires more money from state taxes while state budgets are severely strained.

The next day, DDT announced the 1776 Commission mandating “patriotic education at Federal sites,” places which already teach U.S. history. His executive order, however, wants his version of history to avoid the country’s racism. It also reiterates his establishment of the “National Garden of American Heroes,” including Audie Murphy which represent his version of heroes. To DDT, history is all about monuments. DDT’s order duplicates his attacks on critical race theory and the New York Times’ 1619 Project addressing slavery and contributions of Blacks. The project’s financial support comes from the under-funded Department of Education.

A president can revoke or change executive orders at any time. President-Elect Joe Biden is reviewing all DDT’s orders and planning to reverse some of them—the withdrawals from the Paris Climate agreement and the World Health Organization, repeal of almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and reinstatement of the DACA program, for example. Biden’s top advisers He has hundreds of transition officials preparing to work in federal agencies. On Monday, he plans to establish a coronavirus task force co-chaired by former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner. Executive orders may become important to Biden if Mitch McConnell (R-KY) remains in charge of the Senate; as he did with President Obama, McConnell plans to block anything Biden wants to do, even confirming Cabinet members.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) summarized Biden’s initial agenda:

“Get us out of this pandemic that’s been made far worse by Trump’s bungled mishandling of it, rebuild our economy in a way that’s more sustainable and more inclusive, and deal with division and inequality.”

Biden’s first step is for DDT’s appointee as head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, to rule election results are final. Biden will take legal action if the decision is delayed. DDT still claims he won the election because of “illegal ballots.” Murphy plans to continue limiting access to government resources for the transition team as long as possible. DDT is now complaining about the bad transition when he moved to the Oval Office, but he threw away all the resources the Obama administration gave him.

Early in DDT’s term, people wrote letters about his sacrifice to take only $400,000 a year salary and give up his business. He never gave up his business, and Forbes estimates he made $1.9 billion from 2017 to 2019. And paid only $750 tax for each of two years. Details here.

Three days after Trump supporters claim COVID-19 ends on November 4: November 5 – November 5: 118,204 new cases and 1,125 deaths; November 6 – 132,540 new cases and 1,248 deaths;  November 7 – 124,232 new cases and 1,031 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.

 

September 21, 2019

Pieces from DDT’s 139th Week

The media has been consumed for the past week about a potential exchange from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) of $250 military aid to Ukraine for an investigation into DDT’s possible opponent Joe Biden and the Middle East tension from attacks by unknown enemies on the Saudi Arabian oil fields. That wasn’t all.

DDT found a white man to sit around and watch him work, his criteria for a new national security adviser. According to the NYT, Robert O’Brien is known as “an affable, ingratiating personality that has earned him allies throughout the Trump administration, notably including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, both of whom supported his appointment.” NYT also described him as a pleasant John Bolton, because O’Brien’s similar ideology to his predecessor. Like many other people who DDT hires, he has few qualifications for the job other than his lavish praise for DDT. As “hostage negotiator,” O’Brien persuaded Sweden to release rapper A$AP Rocky from jail for a street brawl to improve DDT’s ratings among blacks. The former adviser for Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz—all losing their candidacies—now has the job to solve DDT-created disasters in Iran, China, North Korea, and Afghanistan. DDT clearly said that the new adviser won’t be making any decisions because DDT is in charge. Congress is considering a law requiring confirmation for this position that DDT can freely vacate and fill. Meanwhile Bolton is now speaking out against DDT’s policies.

This spring, DHS dumped a dozen high-level officials after he fired John Mitnick, the agency’s fifth general counsel. In his job, Mitnick supervised 2,500 lawyers at the agency, pushed back against policies putting the DHS in a legally dubious position, and stopped DDT from releasing migrants in sanctuary cities in retaliation for their laws.

Two vegan Democratic presidential candidates, Cory Booker and Tulsi Gabbard, are safe from DDT’s reduction of food safety inspectors in pork plants by 40 percent. USDA will use a small number of industry employees with no training for “inspection” and eliminate line speed limits, promoting less cleanliness in both prep and inspection. Peer reviews show that studies used as justification for faulty position that faster line speeds are safer, hidden from the public, are flawed, but the USDA moves ahead because of packing house requests despite 80,000 opposing comments from the public. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, published over a century ago, describes the unsanitary conditions then and perhaps now. USDA’s IG is investigating the faulty data, lack of transparencies, and other rule irregularities.

In an effort to politically influence the U.S. Supreme Court, 53 Republican Senators signed a letter declaring that Democrats pose “a direct, immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary.” The proposed case has already been settled after New York City repealed a NRA-opposed statute almost a decade ago, proving that the lawsuit is only political. Republicans are still not happy after confirming 150 ultra-conservative judges and two Supreme Court justices, one of the positions blocked for almost a year so that a Republican president could nominate one.

Another Republican action is endangering the lives of U.S. military members, according to the Pentagon. DDT’s moved $3.6 billion to build a border fence through the National Emergencies Act from the military budget designated to solve life-threatening situations such as asbestos in living quarters for troops and their families and storage facilities for ammunition that aren’t fire-resistant or capable of handling explosions. The Pentagon reports that the loss of the funds hurts “military readiness” and damages national security. The lack of funding for a new boiler at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska could be force an evacuation and leave the base frozen and damaged. The main gate at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey is current subject to “hostile penetration … and an increased terrorist threat.” DDT unfunded plans “to deter Russian aggression,” according to an Air Force report. The National Guard training base at Camp Santiago, destroyed when Hurricane Maria went through Puerto Rico two years ago, won’t be rebuilt. Most congressional GOP members refused to stop DDT from taking the money from real military emergencies.

DDT found another black journalist to libel—this one is a woman. As one tweet commented, DDT’s vile comments just sold 50,000 of Joy Reid’s book, The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story, already on the NYT bestseller list, after he said she had no “talent” and no “’it’ factor.” Reid raised DDT’s fury by saying that he sounded like a “desperate man” at his Baltimore speech and he treated “the gathered Republicans to some smoking hot beauty tips” such as selecting energy inefficient lightbulbs to avoid orange-appearing skin.

Reid responded to DDT by listing a few of his impeachable actions–and that was before the revelation of his extorting Ukraine.  

Last week, highly respected Cokie Roberts died, and DDT tweeted his response:

“I never met her. She never treated me nicely.”

Daughter of prominent U.S. Louisiana representatives for over a half century, Roberts, “called one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting” by ABC, helped pave the way for women in broadcast journalism. About Roberts, noted legal affairs correspondent Nina Tottenberg wrote:

“To know Cokie was to see the personification of human decency…. She was always the voice of people with less power, and the voice of what is right.”

Showing less finesse at a reception at the recent G7 Summit, DDT looked for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi by calling out, “Where’s my favorite dictator?” DDT was greeted with silence. He has not condemned the human rights violations of el-Sisi after he took power through a 2013 military coup against former President Mohammed Morsi. DDT said that el-Sisi is “a good man, and he’s done a fantastic job in Egypt.” At least DDT is right about el-Sisi being a dictator.

In the path of hurricanes, the U.S. military court and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have cost over $6 billion to operate for almost 18 years; taxpayers are charged over $10 million each day to house 40 prisoners. Although almost 800 people have gone through the prison, only one person was convicted. So much torture has tainted evidence that no more prisoners can be convicted with an appeals processing costing a minimum of $1.5 billion during the next 10 to 15 years. If defendants are found not guilty, the government can imprison them indefinitely. The two men who proposed cost-saving measures were fired. With plans to keep the facilities open for another 25 years, the government will need to pay for geriatric care such as joint replacements. The oldest prisoner is now 71 years old.

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, fired hours before his pension would go into effect in April 2018, is still in limbo because the DOJ has refused to tell him for ten days whether a grand jury indicted him for inappropriate media leaks about Hillary Clinton and her foundation. Charges against him require 12 of 23 jurors to agree for probably cause that he committed a crime. In his position, he can declassify anything he wishes so a jury will have trouble finding him guilty. He is accused of lying under oath, but that’s not a problem for Brett Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice. It’s been said that a grand jury can “indict a ham sandwich”; McCabe may be less guilty than that sandwich.

DDT wants to dump VP Mike Pence from the 2020 ballot because he doesn’t provide enough defense for DDT. Ivanka and Jared Kushner regularly threaten Pence to force him to follow orders, according to a White House official.

Even FLOTUS Melania Trump has become toxic. When she asked ten students from the United Nations International School (UNIS) in Manhattan to join at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell, parents don’t want their children photographed with her.

DDT consistently promises that he is bringing coal back, but in Wyoming two of the biggest U.S. mines have shut down.  

Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and Republicans spent seven years trying to repeal it. Democrats took the House in 2018 partly because people were afraid to lose their health care. House Republicans met in 2019 and made plans to repeal people’s health care as the 2020 election nears. That’s all the GOP has?

Attempts by DDT’s National Labor Relations Board to erase a rule making companies more responsible for temps, fast-food-franchise workers, and those who work indirectly for companies may be confounded for a second time because of conflicts of interest by the board—this time its use of temporary staffers. The board hired temporary lawyers and paralegals to review public comments on the rollback of the rule from a company that has a vested interest in the outcome, raising questions about the accuracy of their work.

Thanks to DDT’s trade war with China, the economic OECD, comprised of 36 countries, predicts a world recession. According to the conservative Bloomberg.com, the recession may have already started in some areas such as manufacturing  and farming since DDT started imposing tariffs. In 22 state, the number of people working in factories—members of DDT’s base—fell thus far this year as has truck delivery traffic.

December 22, 2018

DDT: Week 100 – Not Very ‘Positive’

Day One of GOP/Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) government shutdown: Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) who fought to close down the government said that workers without paychecks is “actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position.” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) said, “Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?” He’s talking about 78 percent of fulltime workers.

The House Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), demanded that the FBI vet over 3,400 pages of transcripts of investigation into the DOJ, including former FBI director James Comey, within two days, but the FBI said that the shutdown kept it from meeting that deadline. Materials cannot be released without an evaluation for classified, sensitive, or personally revealing information. Goodlatte, retiring this year, is single-handedly holding up a bill, unanimously passed in the Senate, to hopefully lower the incredibly high rate of violence against Native American women. He complained that states with high percentages of this population would receive grants for this purpose.

Failing to get an agreement on the CR today, the Senate adjourned and took their paychecks home for Christmas, leaving 800,000 government workers, over half of them still working, without pay.

Yesterday, DDT told reporters:

“We have had a very busy two or three days. It’s been very positive.”

Some of these “positive” events:

DDT’s pullout from Syria worsened—if possible—after Brett McGurk, U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting ISIS, Brett McGurk, quit because he disagrees with DDT’s decision and statement about ISIS being defeated.

DDT’s shutdown of the government after conservative media goading and the chaos that he’s causing by pulling troops out of the Middle East with no plan made even stalwart Republican legislators at least raise eyebrows, especially after his Defense Secretary resigned in protest.

A senior Justice Department ethics official concluded that acting DOJ AG Matt Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian scandal, but Whitaker refuses to ask for an official ethics decision. The DOJ has notified Congress of Whitaker’s refusal.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified that she has no idea how many immigrants have died in custody under her watch. In a hearing about the death of a 7-year-old girl while in DHS custody, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said, “There have been at least 12 deaths under your watch,” Jayapal said. Nielsen also lied again that “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Nielsen that his committee plans to do its job of “meaningful oversight,” beginning in January. Note that Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) tried to save Nielsen by comparing the situation to Robert Mueller separating Paul Manafort from “his two beautiful children”—who happen to be 30 years old.

Nielsen said later that asylum seekers will be kept in Mexico instead of allowed to enter the U.S. This decision may not hold up in court after two judgments the past week. The D.C. appeals court struck down DDT and DOJ policies that refused asylum to victims of domestic and gang violence, and Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices to block DDT’s attempts to turn asylum seekers from the border. The ruling supported the decision of U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, who DDT called an “Obama judge,” that DDT’s new rules were illegal.

Latest nominee for DOJ AG William Barr sent an unsolicited 20-page memo to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and Assistant AG Steven Engel last summer giving arguments against Robert Mueller’s right to investigate DDT for potential obstruction of justice and refuting the government’s ability to even question DDT. Barr also sent the memo to DDT before he was appointed.

In a tweet announcing the signing of the farm bill, DDT provided the clip of himself singing the Green Acres theme song at the 2005 Emmys, a performance not to be missed. When the final bill failed to punish some food stamps recipients who did not have jobs, DDT planned an executive order to eliminate legal waivers that would take food from almost 800,000 people, a decision that may be determined illegal.

Instead of going free for giving up information after lying to the FBI, former national security adviser Michael Flynn has another 90 days to tell more secrets after an irritated judge accused him of selling out his country for pushing Turkish interests in the U.S. during DDT’s campaign and blaming the FBI for his lies because they didn’t tell him it was a crime. Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kian has been charged as an illegal agent of Turkey and conspiracy in his efforts to get a Turkish cleric extradited from the U.S., an 80-year-old man who would certainly killed if he were sent to Turkey after living in the U.S. for almost 20 years. DDT said that he would “take a look” at the man’s extradition, obviously not concerned about killings after his indifference to the torture and dismemberment of longtime U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi royalty.

A conservative Texas judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, bad news for DDT and Republicans because 53 percent of people have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act. People voted Democrats into the House to keep their health care. Approval in a November KFF Health Tracking Poll:

  • 82 percent – Young adults stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26
  • 82 percent – Health insurance exchanges for small businesses and people to shop for insurance and compare prices and benefits
  • 81 percent – Financial insurance premium help to low- and moderate-income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs
  • 81 percent – Gradually closure of the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” so people will no longer be required to pay the full cost of their medications
  • 79 percent – No out-of-pocket costs for many preventive services
  • 77 percent – State expansion of existing Medicaid programs to cover more low-income, uninsured adults (now in three-fourths of the states)
  • 65 percent – No denial of coverage because of a person’s medical history

Republicans were in the majority in all of the above.

DDT’s sort-of lawyer Rudy Giuliani contradicted his boss by saying DDT knew that fixer Michael Cohen was negotiating with Russia for a Trump Tower in Moscow long after DDT said it had stopped ten months before his election, perhaps after June 2016, the date that Cohen gave. A letter of intent from DDT to move forward with his negotiations four months into his campaign has also emerged. Giuliani claimed that DDT knew nothing about it, but  DDT signed a letter of intent four months into his campaign for the project.

Documentation proves that DDT also broke his pledge to have no new business deals while he is in the Oval Office by acting as partner in the development of a proposed beachside resort in the Dominican Republic. Taxpayers provide the high costs of business trips for travel and security by DDT’s children in a business that opens up opportunities for more money laundering on the part of the Trump Organization.

DDT’s charitable foundation, called “a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” by the New York AG, has been closed with any assets distributed under court supervision. The AG office is now pursuing a lawsuit to prevent DDT and his three oldest children from membership on boards of any other New York charities and force the payment of $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who made her first appearance since November to declare that the FBI “ambushed” Flynn, also attacked Comey on her official government Twitter account, an ethics issue. After his second six-hour House hearing, Comey, a Republican until 2016, exhorted Republicans:

“At some point someone has to stand up and face the fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement but stand up and speak the truth.”

Instead of the spending spree called the “Santa rally,” the Dow Jones’ seven-percent fall had its worst week since 2008—the year of George W. Bush’s recession—and dropped to the same number as 15 months ago. The Standard & Poor, down 11.4 percent thus far this month, is headed toward its worst December since 1931. DDT is blaming the Federal Reserve, but long time Republicans are blaming DDT. Crude oil plunged 11 percent during the past week for its worst weekly performance in three months.

DDT tweeted that he was negotiating with Democratic leaders about the shutdown for a bipartisan deal and announced a “large group” for a White House lunch but invited only GOP lawmakers and officials, primarily immigration hardliners. Conservatives keep repeating the wall as DDT’s promise but avoid the other promise that Mexico would fund the project.

This NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was taken before DDT’s “positive” busyness this past week:

  • 71 percent: DDT regularly makes “misleading” statements.
  • 62 percent: DDT has not been honest and truthful about Russia.
  • 60 percent: Lawmakers should make compromises to reach consensus on legislation.
  • 54 percent: Disapprove of the job that DDT is doing; negative feelings about DDT.
  • 50 percent: Mueller’s investigation has provided more doubts about DDT’s presidency.
  • 33 percent: The country is headed in the right direction.

Who should take the lead in country’s policies? Trump – 19 percent; GOP – 21 percent; Democrats – 48 percent.

The funniest news of the week: Funds raised by an online campaign We the People Will Fund the Wall—up to $14 million for 241,601 donors for 2/3 of a mile—will end up in the general fund for “general use” or “budget needs,” according to law. These funds are controlled by congressional appropriations. With this law, funds may be returned because GoFundMe prohibits “not using funds for their stated purpose.” Brian Kolfage, creator of the funding project has a background of sites with conspiracy theories. Another GoFundMe site has been introduced called “Ladders to Get over Trump’s Wall.”

If necessary, the money will be donated to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.

September 30, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-six – ‘Mind-bogglingly Bad’

Every week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has given him losses, but the first week of his ninth month may have topped the previous 35 weeks. On Tuesday, he lost the Alabama GOP senatorial primary for Luther Strange against a rabid religious right-winger, Roy Moore, but deleted his tweets supporting Strange after the election, probably illegal for a person in the Oval Office to do. The Affordable Care Act lost for a fourth time since he was inaugurated although he said that Trumpcare was on track. Again he threatened North Korea with “devastating” consequences.

DDT also faced the overwhelming media coverage of government waste by his Cabinet members who love to use charter jets to the tune of over $1 million in unnecessary expenditure. One of them, former HHS Secretary Tom Price quit after DDT expressed great displeasure. A question is whether DDT dumped him for spending less money than DDT does on flights or whether the departure was because of Price’s inability to pass Trumpcare. At a Boy Scout’s jamboree last summer, DDT had threatened to fire Price if the secretary didn’t bring in the necessary congressional votes.

All these disasters were overlaid by DDT’s failure to help Puerto Rico after he was hit by two hurricanes in only two weeks. Frustrated by the lack of U.S. federal support, the mayor of San Juan (PR), Carmen Yulin Cruz, resorted to begging for assistance, saying that she has “one goal and that’s to save lives.” DDT had spent the nine days since Hurricane Maria hit the island by telling everyone that he was doing a great job. In retaliation to Cruz, he tweeted that she has “poor leadership ability” and “they want everything to be done for them.” He complained about her “nasty criticism” and blamed Democrats who “has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump. DDT included criticism of the media, naming CNN and NBC, for their coverage of the relief effort in a series of at least insulting six tweets in less than an hour that he started a little after 4:00 am. The war against Cruz continued late this afternoon.

DDT also received ridicule for his new tax cut proposal that benefits the wealthy and penalizes the poor, despite his claims that the information isn’t true. His grand plan would drop taxes for the wealthy by ten percent and increase the bottom tier by 20 percent. When questioned about his statement that the upper class will have no tax cut, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he made that statement but that “it was never a promise … never a pledge.” Even Goldman Sachs opposed the “trickle-down” justification for tax cuts, reporting that DDT’s plan adds only 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent to America’s economy in 2018 and 2019, far less than the boon that DDT predicts.

On the Russian front, bad news keeps nipping at DDT: 

  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, “Our intelligence community assessment did, I think, serve to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election.”
  • DHS finally notified 21 states that Russian hackers targeted their election systems during the 2016 election after having that information for several months.
  • Russia continues its work to influence people in the U.S. as shown through identification of  80 news stories promoted by 600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations just between September 16 and September 22, 2017.
  • DDT has refused to provide documents connected to the firing of former FBI director to the House Intelligence Committee. He may receive a subpoena for them.
  • Fake news from Russian sources saturated battleground states during the campaign that DDT barely won.
  • Russian-funded Facebook ads during the general election worked to elect DDT by praising him, criticizing Hillary Clinton, and promoting Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders after Clinton was chosen at the Democratic convention.
  • Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg said, “After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it.”
  • The IRS has given special investigator Robert Mueller information on top
  • DDT officials, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
  • Twitter found and shut down 201 accounts connected to Russian operatives posting thousands of political ads on Facebook.

Meanwhile, DDT tweeted:

“Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?”

Pundits are now talking about the possibility that DDT will attack North Korea to protect himself from the Russian investigation.

Acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Chuck Rosenberg, a prosecutor for George W. bush and appointed by Barack Obama, quit because DDT has “little respect for the law.”

DDT spent the entire week trying to cover all his problems with his firestorm of inflammatory remarks about sports athletes. He did recognize that his statements were overboard because he later told reporters that he was not calling on supporters to boycott the NFL. In a separate tweet, he wrote that players who locked arms during the anthem were doing something “good,” despite players said they were demonstrating their unity against the president’s statements.  Trump’s political strategy follows the pattern of past offensive positions: take a divisive stand between himself and those who he describes as unpatriotic elites. He uses the controversy to dominate the news cycle, try to place himself as a strong leader, and maintain that he fights for regular working Americans nostalgic for an earlier time in the country’s history.

DDT’s war against the NFL goes back decades when he failed to buy his way into the league in 1984. The story is here. Forty years later he failed in his attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014 and wants his revenge.

Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to defend DDT by saying that it’s always “presidential” behavior and appropriate for DDT to lie and call a black athlete a “son of a b*****.” Respect the flag and disregard the Constitution is a common conservative position. Sanders said that anything the president does is “presidential.” Questioned further, Sanders said that the issue about protesting during the national anthem was “pretty black and white.” Tomorrow the NFL games—and the “black and white” issue–accelerate.

More DDT problems needing smoke-screens:

DDT invented a mythical hospitalized senator for the most recent failure of Trumpcare but claimed that they still had the votes to pass the bill.

A new travel ban has kept the old one from being argued before the Supreme Court this fall. DDT added Chad, North Korea, and government officials and their families from Venezuela to divert attention from the ban being against Muslims. North Korea won’t let their people coming into the U.S., making that country a no starter, and DDT can’t explain the problem with Chad. Even his order calls the country an “important and valuable counterterrorism partner.” DDT removed Sudan from the banned list, an odd choice because of its international terrorism and ethnic killings. Sudan, however, does have the support of the United Arab Emirates. Asked about the removal, DDT said:

“As far as the travel ban is concerned, whatever it is, I want the toughest travel ban you can have. So I’ll see you in Indiana.

DDT has nominated John Adler, former Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association president, for the Department of Justice’s director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance. His resume includes several years on the advisory board of the Heroes Health Fund, a group offering support for ‘firefighters, police, EMTs, veterans, and others harmed by toxic exposures in the line of duty’ using a detoxification program developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

DDT loyalists are reaping a rich reward with appointments to the Department of Agriculture. DDT campaign staff and volunteers hired for these positions include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant, and the owner of a scented-candle company. Some of them lack requirements, such as a college degree, for the higher government salaries. The truck-driver may not be a college graduate, but he will be developing overseas markets for U.S. agricultural trade goods, a position requiring a master’s degree. A landscaper is assigned to helping farmers, ranchers, and forest managers use conservation practices.

Polls don’t look good for DDT:

  • Climate change: 55 percent of respondents said that climate change had made Hurricanes Irma and Harvey worse. That’s up from the 39 percent who said climate change contributed to Hurricane Katrina when asked 12 years ago. (DDT is a vociferous climate denier.)
  • Lowering corporate taxes: 65 percent of people believe that corporations pay too little in taxes, and only 11 percent think that they pay too much.
  • DDT’s Russia fees: 64 percent of the people think that DDT should pay for his own legal fees in the Russia collusion issue rather than asking the people to do this by contributing to his campaign.

Humorist Samantha Bee has gathered the conservative positions on acceptable forms of protest.

September 23, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-five – Health Care, Russia Loom

The UN experience is over for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) although he’s still exchanging childish insults with North Korea. In addition to the cliffhanger question of a world war, Now the U.S. is waiting for a vote in the Senate about health care repeal and replace with less money to most of the states. Sen. John McCain has come out against the bill, but GOP Senate leaders want to buy Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) vote. The bill gives Alaska and Montana—just those two states—continued advantages of the Affordable Care Act: premium tax credits from Affordable Care Act repealed for other states, delayed Medicaid per capita caps delayed, and “an increased federal Medicaid matching rate. Less than three months ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), co-author of this bill, ranted against buying off people to get votes for a health care bill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) explained the push to get the bill passed in the next week before the filibuster takes over:

“I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.”

Grassley means that the Koch brothers and friends will pull the plug on donations without legislation. At a June retreat, one donor declared that his “Dallas piggy bank” was closed until the GOP manages to “get Obamacare repealed and replaced, get tax reform passed.”

Congress wants DDT to continue his warmongering throughout the world. Sixty-one senators defeated a measure that would have limited DDT’s ability to wage war anywhere he wants. Congress has abdicated its responsibility to determine times and places of warring on other countries. An amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to the defense bill would have repealed a post-9/11 military authorization allowing DDT to determine times and places of warring on other countries. Paul said:

“What we have today is basically unlimited war anywhere, anytime, anyplace upon the globe. Even if my colleagues say, ‘war, war, that’s the answer everywhere, all the time,’ by golly, come down and put your name on it.”

DDT plans to extend drone strikes and commando raids in any countries where Islamic militants are active without high-level vetting. Such action could lead to attacks in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Russia has threatened retaliation against the U.S. if their troops continue to come under fire. The recent shelling of Syrian government positions by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has also put Russian troops under fire.

Other Russia problems:

Difference of opinion between DDT and his administration:

“The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook.” – DDT

“It is clear, and this administration and the entire government has been clear that Russia meddled in the campaigns and the election. That is inappropriate. Absolutely inappropriate. No one takes issue with that whatsoever.” – State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert

Media reported that federal investigators allegedly secretly wiretapped former DDT campaign manager Paul Manafort before and after the 2016 election and plan to indict him. He was first surveilled for employment by a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party and then watched for his collusion between DDT’s campaign and Russian officials to get DDT elected. Two weeks before DDT became the GOP nominee, Manafort offered to brief a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russia. In July, Mueller executed a “no-knock” search warrant on Manafort’s home to stop him from destroying documents connected with violation of tax laws, money-laundering, and foreign lobbying. Mueller has also asked for documents in 13 areas of interest from the White House and Air Force One, including DDT’s firing former FBI director James Comey and DDT’s son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Information about Michael Flynn’s secret meetings and lobbying for the U.S. to spread nuclear power across the unstable Middle East, possibly with Russia’s help, have been expanded with the knowledge that he was joined by Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, who still has security clearance. Michael Flynn’s legal fees are supposedly about $1 million, and he’s asking for donations. DDT and Don Jr. don’t have problems with their legal bills: they’re using money from DDT’s 2020 reelection campaign and the RNC. This the first case of a sitting president using campaign funds for criminal matters.

Facebook’s advertising against Clinton paid by Russia continues with Mueller’s investigating DDT’s campaign digital operation and its overseer, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Billionaire Robert Mercer’s data firm, Cambridge Analytica, made Facebook’s fake news into Propaganda Center for DDT.

Michael Cohen, former DDT lawyer, will be required to testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee instead of a closed meeting with staff because he broke his agreement not to release a public statement before the meeting.

Nicaragua has decided to sign the Paris climate agreement leaving the United States alone with Syria in opposition.

Back on the home front:

White House staffers are flocking to headhunters, seeking positions in the private sector. The turnover date seems to be January, one year less than usual for new presidential administrations. White supremacist Sebastian Gorka, fired from the White House, already got a new gig as “chief strategist” with the “MAGA Coalition,” that supports political candidates who will “compete against globalist corporatists interests.” His first gig was with Sarah Palin—yes, the former VP candidate—at a rally for far right evangelist Roy Moore at the September 26 runoff for Alabama GOP senate candidate. A sample of Moore’s rhetoric about Native Americans and Asians from the state Supreme Court Justice who refused to follow the law on marriage equality:

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A President? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

Opposing Moore is appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), the preference of DDT and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). DDT lukewarm comments at Strange’s rally won’t inspire confidence. “I don’t know him. I met him once.” And “that is the tallest human being I’ve ever seen.” DDT said that he might be making a mistake in backing Strange and would rather be home watching television. It was—“strange.”

The 10th Circuit Court ruled that BLM violated federal law by failing to consider climate impact of four coal leases on federal land in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Three of the leases are actively being mined, and two of them produce about 20 percent of the coal used to generate electricity. A month ago, a federal judge made the same ruling in blocking the expansion of an underground Montana coal mine.

California is suing DDT in opposition to his “wall” because it is unconstitutional and breaches environment laws.

DDT is using a report that censored data in a refugee policy in attempt to show that refugees from war-torn countries “are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.” His HHS report shows that refugees brought in “$63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.”

A teamsters union representing 120,000 New York workers has declared itself a “sanctuary union” after ICE deported long time member Eber Garcia Vasquez. His asylum case was turned down in 2013, but he annually checked in with immigration authorities and had applied for a green card. Vasquez’s wife and three children are U.S. citizens.

DDT’s old travel ban expires tomorrow, and he needs new plans. One may be to extend the existing six countries that he thinks have not protected against terrorists and criminals coming to the U.S. The current ban goes to the Supreme Court on October 10 for argument. After over eight months since his inauguration and declaration of bans, DDT hasn’t been able to put together a vetting system.

The Trump Organization, still owned by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has decided to clean up DDT’s bio for posterity. Gone are all references to his birther fight—his attempts to prove that President Obama was not born in the United States—and all his bankruptcies and other failed deals. It also removes any mention to Macy’s dropping DDT’s product line because of his racist remarks about Mexican immigrants and reference to Istanbul’s Trump Towers. DDT doesn’t own that property or most buildings labeled “Trump” outside the United States, but the Turkish owners bought his name for between $1 million and $5 million. A year ago, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted the towers to be renamed because of DDT’s Islamophobic comments.

As part of DDT’s order for anti-leak training at all executive agencies, the EPA required its employees to undergo the hour-long training. Part of the instruction is that they cannot release any information even if unclassified. Training materials were leaked to the press. The EPA has received press about its cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry, its purging federal scientists, and its removal of information about climate change from the EPA website. Other information includes the EPA’s rolling back regulations.

Could this be considered a death threat? Ann Coulter suggested “death squads” for removing the president who didn’t live up to her anti-immigration expectations.

July 8, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Four – Mostly Russia!

The last week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was dominated by North Korea, his world trip, the fallout from his commission’s demand to garner all the states’ voting data, GOP’s lies in their attempt to destroy health care, and, of course, his tweets. But there’s more.

The U.S. is rapidly losing its world leadership: a majority of people in the U.S. have more confidence in Angela Merkel, the chancellor of the country poised to take over the U.S.’s former position, than in DDT.

The White House publication of all its employees’ salaries shows a 37 percent discrepancy in male and female median earnings. Women’s median wage is $72,650 while men get $115,000. DDT’s gap is more than double the national gap of 17 percent and the largest since 2003. Of 22 staffers paid the highest in the White House, only five are women. In April, DDT revoked President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order requiring companies with federal contracts to comply with labor and civil rights laws. DDT made it possible for all companies to pay workers unfairly.

Science has literally left the White House. The last three employees departed the science division of DDT’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

Although 222,000 jobs were added in June, new manufacturing jobs were half those in February, and 59,000 of the new jobs were in health and services—the area on the GOP chopping block with Trumpcare. DDT promised at least a four-percent increase in the economy in his first year, but Wall Street is forecasting half that or lower, about the average since President Obama brought the nation out of its Bush recession. The recent slump of the dollar comes from the world view of U.S. economy. As the Fed normalizes monetary policy by raising interest rates, the government has lost its opportunity for cheap loans to repair the nation’s infrastructure. Less federal tax revenue indicates faltering personal income. Although people think that the country is in good shape because of rising stock markets, some experts have expressed concern about the future of stocks.

DDT is clinging to his travel ban, but it’s alienating people—even grandparents—because of the highly restrictive definition of “close” relatives connected to people applying to come into the country. The exclusion of grandparents as “close family members” has hit social media.

The extremist radical policies from DDT are facing courts and sometimes losing. Scott Pruitt’s EPA huge favor to the oil and gas industry last month has been overturned. The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pruitt lacked authority to delay an Obama-era regulation cracking down on pollutants from drilling operations. /The EPA admitted that Pruitt’s two-year delay would have a bad affect on the health of children near oil and gas operations.

Tom Price’s HHS agency reported that the Affordable Care Act is “working as intended” because it protects insurers from big risks and moderates consumer premiums. The charge on plans with lower average risks that is transferred to higher-risk plans is neutral within every state. Another temporary plan, reinsurance, protects insurers from high-cost enrollees by paying companies for the first three years. Both plans are permanent in George W. Bush’s Medicare’s prescription program, Part D. Medicare Part D also assesses insurers collecting huge profits from the program and paying them to insurers with commensurate losses, but the GOP maintains that this is an insurer “bailout” for the ACA. Reinsurance reduced net claim costs by four to six percent in 2016. Stopping the program is driving up premiums for 2017 and 2018, thus the GOP is causing the infamous “death spiral” of health care.

Eighteen states plus the District of Columbia are suing Betsy DeVos because of her delay in regulations to protect federal student loan borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools. The rules, set to take effect last July 1, prohibit colleges from forcing students to settle complaints through arbitration instead of court and make it easier for the borrowers to seek debt forgiveness.

The Hatch Act prevents government officials in the executive branch from involvement in political activity; a 2012 amendment added disciplinary action to its violation. Dan Scorvino, DDT’s social media director, may have broken this law when he tweeted in April that DDT’s supporters should defeat Rep. Justin Amash (MI) in the primary. It goes far beyond his vicious tweets that almost equal those of DDT. During DDT’s campaign, Scorvino tweeted an anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton atop piles of hundred-dollar bills and a Jewish Star of David that read, “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” Another violator is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for her retweeting a DDT message endorsing Ralph Norman, the Republican running for Congress in South Carolina’s 5th District. Norman won the special election.

Russia stays in the news:

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, finalized a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank the month before last November’s election when the bank was in court answering a federal mortgage fraud case and charges that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. DDT has also garnered almost $8 million from Russian government official Igor Zorin for Florida properties.

DDT’s longtime buddy Michael Cohen has lost his place in DDT’s inner circle to separate DDT from Russian connections. Cohen bought apartments from DDT, bullied DDT’s condo board into submission, and acted as intermediary with mafia-linked DDT business partner, Felix Sater, and Ukraine parliamentarian, Andrii Artemenko, soon after DDT’s inauguration. Artemenko gave Cohen documents to deliver to Michael Flynn before he was fired for Russian connections. Cohen denies reports that he met overseas with Russian officials and operatives, but he has acquired his own lawyer and refuses to provide documents to or appear before congressional intelligence committees.

Sater, a Russia-born real estate dealmaker who allegedly has organized crime links, is agreeing to testify in an international investigation into a Kazakh family’s dealings in the U.S. including the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City. Sater is a known mob informant who fled to Russia to avoid criminal charges. He was also in prison for slashing a man’s face with a broken cocktail glass. His history is here. DDT has said, “I am not involved in Russia.” That doesn’t mean that Russia isn’t involved with DDT. Others are also willing to report on DDT’s connection with financing the Trump SoHo in a front for money laundering.

Although Peter Smith, the man who may have been involved in Russian hacking, has died, the news about his attempts to get Hillary Clinton emails continues. A document of involved people lists senior members of DDT’s campaign, some of them now serving in the White House. Included are white supremacist Steve Bannon. DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, senior Agriculture Department adviser Sam Clovis, and the fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn.  Security consultant Matt Tait, a Smith colleague, gave reasons “that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.” The UK cyber-analyst wrote about how Smith recruited him to verify the accuracy of emails.

What has DDT’s Department of Homeland Security to investigate Russian cyber attacks on U.S. voting machines? Nothing.

Hackers from a foreign government—probably Russia—hacked at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including a nuclear facility in Kansas. DDT still hasn’t addressed the problem with Russian president, Vladimir Putin. After DDT’s talk with Putin in Hamburg (Germany) this past week, Putin came away with the impression that DDT agreed that there had been no hacking into the U.S. election.

The company that provides cybersecurity for the U.S. government, including the Pentagon, may lose its contract. Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, has certifications issued by the Russian Security Service (FSB) which allows the Russian government to examine anything from Kaspersky. Its security software is also sold at U.S. retail outlets such as Target and Walmart. U.S. intelligence is increasingly concerned that Kaspersky software could cyberattack U.S. infrastructure such as the electric grid, airlines, water utilities, etc. Former CIA station chief in Moscow, Steve Hall, pointed out the Russian control over all of Kasperky’s data:

“Any time [Russian President Vladimir Putin] wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are. There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.”

Last Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said, “I get so frustrated when we get focused on tweets.” DDT is responsible for Cassidy’s frustration, and over two-thirds of people in the United States wish that DDT would stop the tweeting. The miserable attacks on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough were followed by a view of DDT’s fat ass in the air while he pummels a character labeled CNN. He didn’t create the video, but he retweeted it which makes it an official communication from the White House.

While in Germany, DDT attacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, claiming that all the foreign powers were talking about her email serve and tweeting that he “refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA.” A few DDT mistakes: Podesta’s emails were not on the DNC server; he was not involved with the DNC; the CIA spies on foreign governments and wasn’t investigating cyber-attacks on Clinton.  And DDT continually says that Russia wasn’t involved in the hacking.

“‘The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. The president is the spokesman for democracy and liberty. Isn’t it time we brought back the pomp and circumstance and the sense of awe for that office that we all held?’”

The above quotation is from DDT’s 2015 book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. He should read it sometime.

 

June 28, 2017

Congress Churns Forward

Congress is getting ready for another vacation, gone for all next week for a week, before returning for a few days and disappearing for over a month. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has taken over for Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) as head of the House Oversight Committee and announced that he won’t bother with any investigation into the involvement of people such as Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner with Russia. Gowdy also ruled out looking into whether Trump White House adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked. This is the same man who spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours examining Hillary Clinton’s email server and four deaths in Benghazi.

Chaffetz won’t be back to Washington after the break; he submitted his resignation in April. He did leave a legacy by calling on Congress to declare a monthly $2,500 housing stipend for each congressional member, equivalent to two annual minimum-wage salaries. Chaffetz is the same person who told people that they could pay for their health insurance if they didn’t buy an iPhone. People who asked why Chaffetz had quit a year and a half before the end of his two-year term now have their answer. He starts on Fox network Saturday—the day that he begins “retirement.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain (R-AZ), each met with Andriy Parubiy, founder of the neo-fascist Social-National Party of Ukraine that used Nazi ideology and Third Reich imagery. The SNPU banned non-Ukrainians and established a violently racist paramilitary group called the Patriot of Ukraine. Ryan called on “closer political, economic, and security relations between our legislatures,” and McCain said that he and Parubiy had a “good meeting.”

While the media concentrated on the egregious health care plan in the Senate and the Russian investigation into Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his colleagues, the House passed a near-repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act. When the act was signed into law in 2010, it attempted to limit the riskiest types of securities to keep the United States out of another recession like the one a decade ago. Current Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin hates the Dodd-Frank Act because it keeps him from making more vast profits from disclosing on mortgages the way that he did before it went into effect.

Ironically the pro-Wall Street bill is called CHOICE Act. One part of it eliminates the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, requiring brokers to act in the best interest of their clients when providing investment advice about retirement. The legislation would also stop the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from overseeing plans for banks with more than $50 billion in holding assets if they need to declare bankruptcy. It would also greatly lower capital requirements, a method of making bank safer by keeping them from loading up on debt.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) calls it the “Wrong Choice Act” because the anti-family, anti-consumer provisions block regulators from carrying out their jobs and allows big banks to ignore oversight. CHOICE allows banks to return to gambling in the market with federally guaranteed deposits and resume unlimited unfair banking practices to deceive customers. CHOICE permits unregulated payday and car-title loan sharks. If the bill passes, the president can fire the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and curb its oversight powers. The bill allows legislators to defund CFPB, the first step in doing away from it.

CFPB returned $11.8 billion to more than 29 million consumers defrauded by big banks, shady for-profit colleges, and debt collectors. Despite the banks’ record profits last year, they want to eliminate the rules that reduce foreclosures and protect borrowers.

The Dodd-Frank Act creates rules, processes, and organizations in the connected financial world of banks, hedge funds, mortgage originators, insurance companies, debt collectors, and payday lenders. Stripping away the pieces of Dodd-Frank is like mining by removing a mountain. With any luck, the CHOICE Act may not move through the Senate because eight Democrats would have to support it.

Before the Senate tackles CHOICE, it has to deal with the highly unpopular health care bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has found $188 billion, and he’s madly talking with reluctant GOP senators to bribe them with backroom “side deals.” Conservatives no longer want to use money to reduce the deficit. If he gets any kind of consensus, then he has to rush the revised bill to the Congressional Budget Office for another scoring in order to vote in the last two weeks of July. The bill has to be passed in coordination with the House by September 30 in order to need only 50 votes, and the Senate is in recess for all of August.

Compromise will be difficult: the far right wants no coverage mandates to lower premiums, and the right (called moderates) want more generous tax credits for the working class and less punitive Medicaid cuts. At least nine senators have said that they couldn’t vote for the present bill, and they’re split between those from states that expanded Medicaid and those who fought it. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wants permission for bare-bones plans that don’t offer much health care—back to life before the Affordable Care Act. McConnell continues to claim that Democrats won’t talk about the health care bill while Democrats are begging to be given a seat at the discussion table.

As could be expected, Democrats were upset about being left out of the process. In an odd twist, however, so were several Republicans. Those in the closed-door “listening sessions” reported that the leadership wouldn’t tell them what was and wasn’t on the table. They were just asked about what they could and couldn’t support. Some went so far as to say that the meetings were a box-checking exercise.  “I always believe legislation is best crafted through the normal order,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said. “I think it’s much better to have committee consideration of bills, public hearings and to have a full debate.” She was joined by a number of “moderate” GOP senators in calling on involvement of Democrats in the governing process.

The Senate has not had this type of closed-door partisan process to major legislation since before World War I, over a century ago. Don Ritchie, the historian emeritus of the Senate, said that Democratic leaders tried the same MO during the Great Depression, but senator revolted. A small revolt may be starting now as most GOP senators are non-committal about the bill. A  result of Senate support, people hate their version of Trumpcare even more than they hated the House bill. A USA Today poll reported 12 percent approval, and that newspaper is owned by Fox’s Rupert Murdoch. The House bill had gone as high as 20 percent approval.

The last time that members of Congress headed home for a recess, most of the Republicans refused to have town halls with their constituents. They will be increasingly reluctant this summer because the health care bills are causing far more anger than earlier—and the public was furious then. Some GOP legislators are using the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) as an excuse to avoid their voters. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) has an idea. During the last recess, he suggested that Democrats “adopt a district” as he did when he fielded questions in a town hall from constituents in a neighboring district after Rep. John Faso (R-NY) avoided any meetings. Rep. Reuben Gallego (D-AZ) “adopted” a neighboring district belonging to Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) when she wouldn’t host an event in her district. Maybe the idea will catch on this summer. Only two GOP senators—Jerry Moran (KS) and Bill Cassidy (LA) have scheduled town halls for the upcoming break.

A miracle did happen in the U.S. House during the past month! Republicans stood up for the environment! DDT’s budget eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, halves the scientific research, and decimates environmental enforcement and grants—in all, slashing $2.6 billion, 31 percent of the EPA’s budget. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) wasn’t buying the agency’s secretary, Scott Pruitt, when he defended the cuts by saying they didn’t need the funding. Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) defended the Great Lakes, calling them “a national treasure” and asking if Pruitt thought that it’s “fair to expect states and local communities to shoulder the burden of caring for them.” Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) opposed the 30 percent cuts in the Superfund program, affecting over 100 hazardous waste sites in his state. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) objected to zeroing out several tribal environmental grants and programs. It’s a start!

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