Nel's New Day

February 8, 2020

DDT: Week 159 – End of Democracy in U.S.

The week started with Super Bowl LIV.  Anyone who doubts that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be suffering from dementia should watch this video as he kibitzes during the playing of the “Star Bangled Banner” kick off. On Fox & Friends, he had said that players who don’t stand “proudly for the national anthem … maybe … shouldn’t be in the country.”

Monday was the grand mess of the Iowa caucus, the first selection of delegates for the 2020 presidential conventions. Faulty coding and conservatives’ clogging the phone lines for reporting the results led to confusion about the “winner.” It also allowed conspiracy theorists, which include Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to claim that the “Bernie blowout and a Biden crash” may be related to poll and caucus problems in Iowa. Graham’s reelection campaign has made him increasingly desperate.

Tuesday night was DDT’s annual State of the Union reality show when he gave his feature guest, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, designated for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The award, which was presented on California’s Rosa Parks Day, has been given to Parks, the Apollo 13 Crew, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as well as noted people in the arts, education, military, etc. This year, DDT gave it to his racist, misogynist friend. A few of Limbaugh’s more infamous comments: 

  • Mocking Michael J. Fox for shaking from Parkinsons disease.
  • Calling 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton a “dog.”
  • Claiming that the way to stop HIV was “do not ask another man to bend over and make love at the exit point. That’s what you don’t do.”
  • Comparing the movement for marriage equality as a “movement on to normalize pedophilia.”
  • Calling President Obama “Barack the Magic Negro” and Michelle Obama “uppity.”
  • Supporting DDT in the birther movement.
  • Describing Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” because she campaigned to get free birth control for medical problems.
  • Declaring that ‘feminism was established so that unattractive ugly broads could have easy access to the mainstream.’”
  • Stating that “women mean yes when they say no.”

Of Limbaugh’s 42 statements checked by PolitiFact, 81 percent were lies. First Lady Melania Trump, who DDT lauded for her “Be Best” campaign to stop bullying, placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck.

As Republican columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote, David Duke may be DDT’s next choice for the “Medal of Freedom.” She also wrote that the true accomplishments that DDT touted actually belong to President Obama and the rest of his self-glorification were lies.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said that the cult-like behavior of the Republican legislators at SOTU was like watching a North Korean military parade. When DDT entered, they chanted “four more years” just like at a campaign rally before “Make America Great Again.” DDT waited until a Friday rally to tell his audience to chant 12 more years or 16 more years instead of four years.

After the SOTU, State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo tried to attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) for tearing up DDT’s speech by comparing her to second-grader Lisa Simpson, on The Simpsons, ripping up a paper. He missed the context of the television program: Lisa had overheard a lobbyist bribing a congressional member for a corrupt act and talked about the “swamp” of Washington. The program on disillusionment from the realization of corruption was filmed in 1991. In the program, the corruption politician was arrested.

Wednesday was the day for DDT’s acquittal in his impeachment trial with only one GOP senator, Mitt Romney (UT), voting against even one of the two articles of impeachment. Almost one-third of the other GOP senators openly admitted that DDT “did something wrong” but claimed that he had “learned his lesson.” Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), up for reelection this year, thinks that DDT has learned “he needs to go through proper channels.” She claimed that Joe Biden might be immediately impeached if he were elected president but then tried to back down on her statement later. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) said:

 “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office.”  

Sen. Susan Collins (ME), extremely vulnerable in her reelection campaign, said she voted against witnesses and for DDT’s acquittal because DDT would be “much more cautious” but then backed down on her belief after she made those votes.  

The Senate impeachment trial culminating on Wednesday hit a new low in that chamber’s behavior and the pattern of trials in the United States. A comparison to DDT’s impeachment trial: Imagine that a person murdered someone you loved and there were witnesses to the killing. Before the trial, the killer meets with the jury to establish procedures for the trial to guarantee acquittal, and most of the jury, many of whom were paid by the killer, promised to acquit the murderer. The trial has opening arguments, closing arguments, and vote. No evidence, no witnesses, and no discussion of guilt. The jurors said that any witnesses or documents would make the trial last too long. Meanwhile the killer threatened jury members who voted against acquittal, and the defense attorneys, who were involvement in the killing, consistently lied in their arguments with no punishment. During the closing arguments, GOP jurors walked out of the proceedings, but they will still voted. This trial was worse than the Jim Crow trials in the South.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), one of the jurors who swore an oath to “do impartial justice,” continually bragged that he had “total coordination” with the White House and promised “no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.” For example, McConnell advised DDT’s legal team about which arguments they should make to persuade undecided senators. McConnell called DDT so that he could sign off on a resolution to make the Senate acquittal vote on Wednesday.

The Senate has given DDT the same power as the Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (“Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”) that gave the Chancellor Adolf Hitler the right to enact laws without the involvement of the German Reichstag, comparable to the U.S. Congress.

The DOJ admitted that they are blocking two dozen emails about withholding congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine until the Senate acquits Trump. Robert O’Brien, DDT’s fourth national security adviser in about three and a half years, is sticking with the “he didn’t withhold aid” argument. His inability to see evidence does not bode well for “national security.”

Romney isn’t the only GOP leader who believes that DDT abused his power. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said that DDT shouldn’t be in office. At the Fox network, once called “state TV” because of its overwhelming support for DDT, the research team warned colleagues to not trust some claims about Ukraine by its top commentators. The briefing book questioned credibility by “disinformation” deliverers such as John Solomon (a former opinion writer for The Hill), Rudy Giuliani, Victoria Toensing, and Joe diGenova and cited extensive examples of their falsehoods. These people frequently appeared on shows hosted by Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Tucker Carlson. DiGenova disappeared from the channel after he falsely make the anti-Semitic statement that liberal billionaire George Soros “controls” the State Department. He and his wife Toensing never explained that they made $1 million from Dmytro Firtash, an indicted Ukrainian oligarch and accused high-level Russian mafia associate who is trying to avoid extradition to the U.S. Giuliani is using Firtash to get damaging information on the Bidens.

DDT may have been acquitted of holding up congressionally-approved funding for Ukraine after some GOP senators falsely claimed his innocence because he released the money, but he’s still withholding approval for $30 million of arms and ammunition from U.S. companies for Ukraine. One sale has been delayed for over a year, despite down payments from Ukraine, but officials can’t get any explanations from DDT. Ukrainian officials think the delays could come from the U.S. attempts to block China’s purchase of a strategic Ukrainian aerospace company that manufactures helicopter and airplane engines. Officials in the U.S. have ignored all requests from Ukraine for information.

Almost one-third of GOP senators who voted to acquit DDT were in Congress during Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial. Of them, only Susan Collins voted to acquit both men.

Senators representing 151.5 million people voted to acquit; senators representing 169.5 million people voted to convict. Once again, DDT lost the popular vote. Those voting to acquit represent only 44 percent of the U.S. population. Plus a majority of the U.S. public supported DDT’s impeachment and removal from office.

The rest of the week tomorrow!

January 20, 2020

Will Trade Deals Overcome Impeachment?

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has gloated about how good he is at making business deals; he even hired a writer for The Art of the Deal with his name as author. Last week, Congress signed a “replacement” for NAFTA, and DDT signed “phase one” in a trade deal with China. 

Former White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said DDT’s tariffs “hurt the U.S.” and didn’t help trade deal negotiation. The steel and aluminum tariffs didn’t help the economy, said DDT’s former appointee, partly the reason he left his job. Cohn also said that tariffs didn’t help DDT pass either trade deal.

DDT maintained that China promised to make huge purchases of U.S. goods, including soybeans and pork, but the agreement has a loophole for China about “market conditions.” Skepticism about the deal caused soybean prices to fall, and tariffs on U.S. farm exports worth billions of dollars remain. U.S. farm goods sales to China in 2018 were $9.1 billion, a 50 percent drop from a year earlier and much lower than the peak of $26 billion in 2012. They have a long way to go.

The China deal failed to fulfill DDT’s campaign promise, to force China into changing its economic policies, the ones that DDT said disadvantaged workers and companies. Missing are any changes to China’s huge subsidies to Chinese companies which has greatly benefited the family of Elaine Choe, Transportation Secretary and wife to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the agreement keeps some tariffs that cost U.S. consumers.

China also reinstated semiannual talks about reform and disputes that DDT had discontinued. Marc Busch, professor of international business diplomacy at Georgetown University, called the deal “more a cessation of hostilities, phase one, coupled with some barter” instead of a trade agreement. Other experts doubted whether DDT will achieve a “phase two.” Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair of Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called it a “very narrow deal. It’s far short of the administration’s original goals, and the US and the international community has paid a very large price for what is a relatively modest deal.” The next time around, DDT may not say that trade wars are good and easy to win as he swivels his focus to tariffs on France and Germany.

In the meantime, the “deal” that DDT made with China returns it to the status quo before he was inaugurated.

The number of DDT’s lies and misleading claims have spiked since he was inaugurated. Of the 16,241 falsehoods during his first three years, 1,999 (six a day) were in 2017, 5,689 (almost 16 a day) in 2018, and the remaining 8,155 (over 22 a day) were in 2019. Here’s a breakdown.

Many of these lies were in his speech to the Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention last Sunday in Austin (TX). DDT claimed that farmer income fell under President Obama when it topped out at the highest it’s ever been in 2013. Taking credit for the $30 billion increase in net farm income, he didn’t point out the $22.4 billion were government subsidies. Last year, farm subsidies hit their highest levels–$22.4 billion and one-fifth of farmer’s money—in over a decade during George W. Bush’s second term, bailouts going primarily to corporate farms. Farmer suicides increased under DDT, and equipment costs went up while farmers with smaller farm lost money.

DDT told farmers that he had also provided “unprecedented support” to the ethanol industry, but he had to change his policy after protests from Midwestern lawmakers and lobbying groups. The visa program also doesn’t allow for enough farmworkers. He falsely suggested that Canadian dairy tariffs were eliminated and that the deal with Japan to reduce tariffs on $7 billion of farm products was a “$40 billion deal.” 

DDT bragged at the conference that the GOP had never been stronger, a claim negated by shifts to Democrats since his inauguration. An awkward part of his speech came from his claim that he fought for farmers’ water rights and ability to control their own usage. DDT is presently suing to take land from ranchers and farmers to build his wall—some of the land owned since before Texas became a state.

DDT’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada keeps almost 90 percent of its predecessor, NAFTA, which DDT proclaimed “the worst trade deal ever made.” The other ten percent comes from the Trans-Pacific Partnership which DDT called a “disaster” and a “rape of our country.” The trade agreement raises auto prices and hurts the U.S. auto industry, according to a federal government analysis.

Both these deals increase trade barriers rather than removing them—and without providing great benefits. Instead of the GOP’s philosophy of anti-tax and pro-market, the Chinese deal does both. Tariffs (aka taxes) remain on $360 billion of Chinese goods, taxes that are paid by U.S. consumers, raise costs for U.S. companies to do business, and risk U.S. jobs. DDT’s tariffs tax products that U.S. manufacturers use to make their goods, and manufacturing has reacted by being in a recession for almost half a year. Despite farm subsidies that were double the amount of the 2009 auto bailout (which DDT constantly criticized), farmer bankruptcies went up 24 percent last year. And the auto industry paid back the loans they received.

Catherine Rampell described the effect of DDT’s trade wars after two years:

“They’ve fractured our international alliances, imposed tens of billions of dollars of new taxes on Americans, resulted in two expensive agricultural bailouts, multiplied farmer bankruptcies and landed the manufacturing sector in a recession.”

This week, DDT is spending another $3.4 million of taxpayer money to give a speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. To help spend the $1 million for lodging, some members of the White House entourage will be staying at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, a historic luxury hotel near the city center. The Secret Service will pay more than $400,000 for agents to stay at the Bad Ragaz, a five-star resort featuring indoor and outdoor thermal spas. Costs on top of the $3.4 million are security expenses, salaries, and another $2.2 million for the Air Force round trip between the U.S. and Zurich and the Marine One helicopter between Zurich and Davos.

DDT landed at the resort today and then flies out after his speech (watch for more lies!) before the meeting does its business, working on the problem of climate change. His company includes Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, Labor secretary Eugene Scalia, and Transportation secretary Elaine Chao along with daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Last year, DDT canceled his appearance at the last minute because of the government shutdown, but still cost taxpayers $3.2 million in unused hotel rooms and rental cars.

His keynote speech tomorrow is on the opening day of his impeachment trial in the Senate. Republicans have a new defense for DDT beyond denial and the “so-what” response: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) came up with “things happen.” In one interview, he moved from DDT didn’t seek foreign election assistance to he did do that but it wasn’t important, and finished by calling DDT’s actions a “mistake” but who cares.

In “Is the Oath a Joke,” conservatives William Kristol and Jeffrey K. Tulis wrote about GOP senators who declared their votes in favor of DDT before they swore under oath to “do impartial justice”:

“Human beings will still be fallible, opinionated, even prejudiced. Indeed our Founders expected no less. But there is a big difference between lamentably falling short of the highest standard and actively scorning it. Might citizens press their Senators to summon up some buried residue of decency and a modicum of impartiality?”

The impeachment trial begins tomorrow at 1:00 EST, beginning with procedural questions. Senate Majority Leader McConnell issued draconian rules today that will likely be debated, for example 24 hours for each side over two days. The possibility of witnesses is still up in the air. Every dissension requires a vote with a simple majority for passing the proposals. The Senate has 47 Democrats and Independents. The vote on accepting witnesses comes after open argument from each side and 16 hours set aside for written questions from senators, according to McConnell. Schumer said that the rules “don’t even allow the simple, basic step of admitting the House record into evidence at the trial.”

The Senate controls the videoing of the trial which means limited views, and the setting will appear more like a courtroom than a legislative assembly. Reporters are permitted in seats above the central rostrum but cannot bring cameras, laptops, cell phones, or any other electronic devices. No cameras or media are allowed in closed session for Senate debate. TV correspondent are on the first floor of the Senate side. Outside the chamber, reporters are penned off behind a velvet rope. C-SPAN and the Fox network plan gavel-to-gavel coverage, and CNN will stream the proceedings online. PBS will cover the proceedings and return to it after the nightly NewsHour broadcast. Senators are not allowed to talk, tweet, or text. Questions must be written and handed to Roberts.

McConnell is desperately trying to get the trial over before DDT’s State of the Union speech on February 4. It is not unprecedented for a president to give that speech while tried for impeachment—Bill Clinton did it in 1999—but DDT lacks the self-control of Bill Clinton. DDT has already demonstrated an inordinate degree of fury and unreasonableness, far more than any other person occupying the Oval Office.

The next few days will not be peaceful ones in the Senate, and Chief Justice John Roberts may struggle with his judicial leadership.

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: