Nel's New Day

September 16, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-four – Loss of Supporters and More

People have been asking what Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) could do to make his supporters turn on him. Now we know: make friends with Democrats. After two weeks of supporting (sort of) “Chuck and Nancy,” as he calls Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DDT supporters have started to burn their hats. [visual] The last straw for them was his possible protection of hard-working people who were involuntarily brought to the United States and had undergone “extreme” vetting.

Last week people discovered about the hacking of records for 143 million people from consumer credit reporting agency Equifax. Since then, it’s been discovered that three senior executives sold shares for almost $1.8 million after the hack. They said that they didn’t know about the hacking. The company was aware of the flawed security system over two months before the hacking and didn’t make the public aware for a month after the event. The revelation caused a 13-percent drop in the value of the shares. Equifax was hired a year ago for $10 million to “help the SSA manage risk and mitigate fraud for the mySocialSecurity system, a personalized portal for customers to access some of SSA’s services such as the online statement.” DDT can take pride in having the most disastrous hacking thus far in history.

DDT bragged he had the biggest hurricane in history—until someone mentioned climate change. He changed his statement to “we’ve had bigger storms than this,” ignoring history because both Harvey and Irma broke several records.

After the nation’s worst deluge in Hurricane Harvey and the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic with Irma, DDT identified the nation’s real emergency—the need for tax cuts. Perhaps he imagined that people across the nation cried out for swift action in helping billionaires and corporations. DDT’s desperate tweet to Congress:

“With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!”

Bush/Cheney used the excuse of tax cuts for all problems—high gas prices, uninsured people, sluggish economy, strong economy, etc. DDT will be trying to persuade everyone that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations will build new homes, operate shelters, and clean up chemical spills that huge companies left in flood areas.

After new DDT friends Sen. “Chuck” Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. “Nancy” Pelosi (D-CA) met with him at a private White House dinner, they reported that he would accept protection for DACA recipients, giving work permits to people involuntarily brought into the U.S., without a demand for the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Republicans were incensed, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that DDT didn’t make that agreement. The following day, DDT “clarified” his agreement with Chuck and Nancy:

6:11 am (Twitter): “No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.”

8:26 am (reporters): “[T]he wall will come later.”

11:06 am (reporters): “Very important is the wall. We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed because without the wall I wouldn’t do anything… It doesn’t have to be here but they can’t obstruct the wall if it’s in a budget or anything else.”

4:18 pm (reporters): “[I]f the Democrats aren’t going to approve it [money for the wall], then we’re not going to do what they want… DACA now and the wall very soon, but the wall will happen.”

DDT’s response to the tragic attack in London this past week before anyone knew the source:

“These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”

He either released classified information about the attack or was just blathering as usual. No matter which, he again alienated the UK; their officials called DDT’s tweet “unhelpful.”

DDT’s MO for the past months has been alienating democratic allies and sucking up to autocratic dictators. This week he hosted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, currently the subject of a DOJ corruption probe regarding misappropriations of billions of dollars from a government fund he controlled. In exchange, Razak and his large contingent dropped their money at the DDT-leased Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Without occupancy currying DDT’s favor, the hotel would increase its 56-percent vacancy rate in an area that has almost 50 percent less. At least he gets $18,750 per night for the “Trump Townhouse” suite. Being elected has made money for DDT. Unfortunately, it’s unconstitutional.

Attempts to discover government expenditures at DDT’s property began with only one short report, the federal payment of $1,092 for a room at Mar-a-Lago for two nights during DDT’s visit in March with “National Security Council as the occupant.”

Michael Flynn, DDT’s former national security advisor, may have lobbied on behalf of foreign countries to build 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East while paid by the White House. Backers said that the Gulf Arab states would fully fund the project. Flynn also failed to report payments from Russian entities. Flynn’s son, Michael Jr., is also being investigated by Robert Mueller as part of the Russian interference in the 2016 election. A man who showed up at a Washington pizza place with a rifle because Jr. had spread the lie that it was a front for Hillary Clinton’s sex trafficking. He also smeared Clinton aide Huma Abedin with the lie that she was connected to the Muslim brotherhood and pushed the falsehood that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a closet gay man who abuses cocaine. DDT fired Flynn Jr. before his father was shown the door. Mueller is also targeting Paul Manafort’s son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai.

The Office of Government Ethics briefly permitted Russia—and anyone else—to anonymously donate to legal defense funds for White House staffers. Public outcry forced OGE to reinstate the ban.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, a Ronald Reagan appointee, blocked DDT’s rules to keep funding from so-called “sanctuary” cities in a nationwide preliminary injunction against the DOJ. AG Jeff Sessions had said that a grant to local law enforcement for training and supplies applies only “to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48-hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is again opposing DDT after his vote against the ACA “repeal and replace”—this time objecting to DDT’s ban on transgender military members. In backing the bipartisan bill to block DDT’s ban, McCain explained its rationale:

“When less than one percent of Americans are volunteering to join the military, we should welcome all those who are willing and able to serve our country. Any member of the military who meets the medical and readiness standards should be allowed to serve — including those who are transgender.”

One reason for selling off public land is to make money for the government. Auctioning off oil drilling rights on approximately 7,000 acres of a bird habitat to avoid endangered species garnered the government $14,837. That pays for 0.005 percent of one DDT’s trip to Mar-a-Lago. “America” is for sale.

DDT’s DOJ is reversing a program to improve trust between law enforcement and communities. Sessions, who supports DDT’s pardon of Joe Arpaio, wants to “fulfill my commitment to respect local control and accountability.” The purpose of the rescinded program was to determine any systemic problems in troubled police departments. Sessions has already told federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious crimes possible given military equipment to state and local police.

It has come to light that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, worth about one-half billion dollars, wanted taxpayers to pick up the tab for his honeymoon transportation by letting him take a government jet to Scotland, France, and Italy. Mnuchin has been called the “foreclosure king,” even foreclosing on a 90-year-old widow who owned his company $.27. He and Louise Linton weren’t permitted the plane that would have cost $25,000 an hour, and they are being investigated for using a government plane to watch the eclipse in Kentucky. DDT explained about his request that his administrative officials “had to give up a lot to take these jobs.”

Senators unanimously passed a resolution condemning white supremacy and asking DDT to “address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.” The resolution also asks AG Jeff Sessions and DHS to investigate “all acts of violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism” by white supremacists, white nationalists or associated groups and prevent them “from fomenting and facilitating additional violence.” The House passed the joint resolution with a voice vote. DDT signed the resolution after he had a talk with the only GOP black senator, Tim Scott (R-SC). (Two of the GOP House members are black.) According to DDT, he told Scott:

“[Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and I] had a great talk yesterday. I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there. You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that’s what I said.”

DDT’s use of “other side” for people opposing the neo-Nazis whenever he talks about Charlottesville (VA) begs the question: does he identify with the white supremacists against the “other side”? Called a “white supremacist” by ESPN host Jemele Hill, DDT trashed the network and called for an apology from Hill. At least DDT didn’t go as far as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who said that the white supremacists at Charlottesville (VA) were actors hired by liberals to make neo-Nazis look bad.

And there’s more—later!

September 1, 2017

Hurricane Harvey’s Disasters

First a Category 4 hurricane followed by a 1,000-year rain/flood. What can be worse? Explosions!  After EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt delayed rules for chemical plants, organic peroxide at the Arkema chemical facility in Crosby, about 25 miles northeast of Houston, continues to blow up because of refrigerator loss from flooding. Arkema officials refused to keep the chemicals from exploding because it would then be unsalable. They aren’t even required to tell first responders what chemicals are at Arkema to provide safety for the firefighters. In more explosions, the “extremely flammable” chemical will just have to “burn itself out,” producing “incredibly dangerous” fumes, according to a facility spokesperson.  Interview with Houston Chronicle reporter Matt Dempsey regarding Arkema’s refusal to talk.

The rules that Pruitt delayed came after a 2013 explosion at a chemical facility in West, 200 miles north of Houston, that killed 15 people. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is erasing any federal responsibility in disaster response and discouraging corporate investment in new infrastructure. The newest refinery is 60 years old. Millions of pounds of pollutants have been released from flooded and shut-down refineries and chemical plants. Two nuclear reactors are still operating at Bay City, 65 miles southeast of Houston, where people have been evacuated, and flooding could cause electrical fires leading to core damage as well as a meltdown from loss of cooling water inventory.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez lied about the explosion, describing them as a “pop” followed by smoke; FEMA director, Brock Long, said a plume of chemicals leaking from the plant was “incredibly dangerous.”

Rebuilding in Texas will fail because DDT rescinded the requirement that future building company meet tougher flood standards set by President Obama. A bipartisan plea to keep the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard was overwhelmed by real estate developers and builders. DDT announced his change in an executive order at his August 15 press conference when he ranted support of white supremacists at Charlottesville (VA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) wife and Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, will be implementing DDT’s order. She is a former banker with Citicorp, vice president of Bank of America Capital Markets Group, and board member of Wells Fargo.

DDT’s lack of personnel and budget cuts will also ensure worse flooding and other disasters in the future. The U.S. has no director for either NOAA, which includes the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center, nor DHS. Two FEMA deputy directors await confirmation. DDT’s budget slashes $667 million from FEMA programs and grants, including cuts to the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, which provides funding states and cities to better withstand the impact of hurricanes and coastal storms. He wants the funding moved to “the wall.” Proposed NOAA cuts: 16 percent overall; 32 percent to the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, the agency’s main ocean, weather and climate research office; computer modeling of storms and observation of storms and data dissemination; and 22 percent to NOAA’s satellite division used for weather prediction.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) submitted an amendment to the federal government’s 2018 spending bill preventing funds for the government’s National Climate Assessment.

Texas wants FEMA money but turned down other aid. People of Quebec offered blankets, beds, and water as well as other relief effort such as equipment and crews to help restore power, but Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos refused everything. He asked for “prayers from the people of Quebec” instead. Mexico has also offered help, but the U.S. has not yet accepted.

Both GOP Texas U.S. senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, begged DDT for “any and all emergency protective measures available by a major disaster declaration.” Along with over 20 GOP Texas representatives in the House, they voted against the emergency aid package for Sandy that hit the East Coast. Thirty-nine GOP senators and 179 GOP representatives opposed money for Sandy, and senators stalled for 91 days.

After two months on the job, FEMA Director Long explained that he didn’t order an evacuation of Houston because it would take too long to get people out of the city. People left in the city sat in water if they couldn’t get out on their own—like these women in a Houston nursing home.

As usual, DDT treated the hurricane disaster as his own television reality show. Balanced on a ladder between two fire trucks in Corpus Christi, he held up a Texas flag and said to a few hundred people, “What a crowd, what a turnout!” He talked about the “ratings” from Hurricane Harvey and bragged that FEMA Director Long “has really become very famous on television over the last couple of days.” He seemed self-congratulatory when he tweeted, “WOW – now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood!” DDT even lied in his tweet about “witnessing first hand the horror & devastation.” In Texas for only three hours, he went to Austin and Corpus Christi, met with the Texas governor, and was briefed at a Corpus Christi firehouse. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to cover for DDT by saying, “He met with a number of state and local officials who are eating, sleeping, breathing the Harvey disaster.”

The piece missing from his impromptu speeches was any reference to the people who died in the storm or were forced to leave their homes from the floods. As a germaphobe, DDT may not have been able to touch any of the victims.

DDT did advertise the items for sale on his campaign website through product placement. The “USA” hat that he consistently wore is available for only $40.

While people in Texas were suffering, DDT concentrated on forcing transgender service members out of the military, pardoning white supremacist Joe Arpaio, advertising racist David Clark’s new book, and demanding his “wall.” At no time did he ask for donations for the people in the disaster areas. President Obama did that.

DDT promised to donate $1 million to an unspecified Harvey relief fund, but it is unlikely that he will. Although Sanders said the money might come from the Trump Foundation, donations from other people, that might be difficult because the Foundation is under investigation. When DDT collected money for veterans during his campaign, he didn’t release the money until the media embarrassed him into giving at least part of it to veterans. His statement that he had given $1 million of his personal money turned out to be false.

From Amy Goodman:

“Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical depression as it moves over Louisiana and into Mississippi. In Houston, floodwaters have begun to recede, revealing corpses and mass devastation. Texas officials say at least 44 people [now 47] have been killed by the storm. Nearly 100,000 homes are damaged by flooding. More than 30,000 people remain in shelters. Health officials are taking steps to minimize the spread of diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and nearly 150,000 homes have been told to boil their water. East of Houston, in hard-hit Beaumont, drinking water is completely shut off, and emergency workers are evacuating Beaumont’s main hospital. Meanwhile, flooding continues in North Houston as the Neches River surged beyond its banks and is expected to rise another foot by Friday afternoon.”

In another segment on Democracy Now, guest Renee Feltz talked about the release of waters from reservoirs that increases flooding and one of the polluted areas that EPA is still trying to clean up. Houston is home to over a dozen Superfund sites requiring cleaning up from pollutants, and DDT has cut that budget by almost one third.

Five public health problems after flooding in Houston: contaminated water, especially because of the release of pollutants by the oil and gas industry and explosions from the Arkema chemical plant; mosquitoes, bred in standing water and spreading disease; lost medicines left in evacuated homes, perhaps when people don’t know the names of their medications; mold from underwater conditions in many homes and other buildings; spread of infectious diseases from close contact in shelters; and long-term mental issues such as depression.

Eric Holthaus (Politico):

“Harvey is what climate change looks like. More specifically, Harvey is what climate change looks like in a world that has decided, over and over, that it doesn’t want to take climate change seriously.”

Michael Mann (The Guardian):

“Sea level rise attributable to climate change – some of which is due to coastal subsidence caused by human disturbance such as oil drilling – is more than half a foot (15cm) over the past few decades (see here for a decent discussion). That means the storm surge was half a foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction. In addition to that, sea surface temperatures in the region have risen about 0.5C (close to 1F) over the past few decades from roughly 30C (86F) to 30.5C (87F), which contributed to the very warm sea surface temperatures (30.5-31C, or 87-88F).”

Two high pressure systems kept Harvey in place longer than any other tropical storm in history. The disaster is consistent with last decade’s trend with nine of the past 11 years of Atlantic hurricane seasons producing more storms than normal. And now, Hurricane Irma, suddenly turned into a Category 3 hurricane, is headed for the U.S.

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