Nel's New Day

July 3, 2019

Reverberations from Dem Debates, G20 Summit

Last week, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) made news overseas while 20 Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election debated on two different nights. While people have questioned why the debates are almost 18 months before the final election and why so many people debated, the polls show how the four hours of debate may have changed the playing field. Former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) went into the events as clear leaders. Biden came out still ahead but about 12 points down in some polls, and Sanders placed fourth in the latest Quinnipiac poll. Pundits declared Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) clear winners for the two nights.

In a Quinnipiac poll, Harris moved from 7 percent last month to 20 percent, almost tying with Biden who plummeted eight points to 22 percent. An earlier poll from CNN/SSRS showed Harris again in second place with 17 percent, and a Suffolk University/USA Today poll put Warren in third at 13 percent, four points ahead of Sanders. Even worse news for Biden and Sanders came from a Focus on Rural America poll in Iowa putting Warren and Harris at the top with 20 and 18 percent while Biden had 17 percent and Sanders with 12 percent in fourth place.

In last week’s debates, the six women were clearly prepared; they waited for their turn while the men continually interrupted them. On the first night, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said, “I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman’s reproductive rights in health insurance and the only candidate who passed a public option.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) corrected him, “I want to say there are three women up here who fought pretty hard for a woman’s right to choose.”

The biggest loser among the candidates was Biden when he tried to defend his anti-busing position while he was in Congress. After Harris talked about her accomplishments possibly coming from her being in the first class bussed to her school, Biden tried to gloss over his anti-busing votes by defending states’ rights—not a Democratic position—and explaining that she was able to go to another school because local and state governments passed bussing ordinances and laws. The man who justifies his touching women because he wants to comfort them ignored Harris’ pain from her childhood experiences. Biden flat-out lied when he said he didn’t oppose busing in the 1970s and that the Department of Education had ordered it. The Department of Education didn’t exist until 1979; in a 1975 interview, Biden said: 

“I oppose busing. It’s an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me. I’ve gotten to the point where I think our only recourse to eliminate busing may be a constitutional amendment…. You take people who aren’t racist, people who are good citizens, who believe in equal education and opportunity, and you stunt their children’s intellectual growth by busing them to an inferior school … and you’re going to fill them with hatred.”

At the end of his justification, Biden said, “Anyway, my time is up. I’m sorry.” The comment may refer to his campaign. The day after the debate, he addressed his anti-busing position in a speech at Jesse Jackson’s annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition conference, complaining that “30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can’t do justice to a lifetime commitment to civil rights.”

Biden was also hurt by his boasting about working with racist members of Congress, losing him campaign donors. Billionaire Tom McInerney has “pulled back” his support for Biden because of his working with segregationist senators, long supporting the Hyde Amendment, and his weak performing at the first debate. Other wealthy Silicon Valley potential donors ignore Biden because of his age. Earlier in June, DDT-supporting New York supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis turned down Biden’s request for financial help.

The debate featured a serious group of people having a real debate over things that matter. DDT was bored. Asked about the court-order busing solution for segregation, a confused DDT said, “There aren’t that many ways you’re going to get people to schools.”

For several pundits, the biggest loser in the second debate was questioner Chuck Todd who tried to make a name for himself by baiting the participants. None of the candidates took his bait, but he still talked more than six of them, despite being present for only half the debate time. If only he would take the same tack with Republicans on Meet the Press.

The other person who sucked the oxygen out of another important event was Ivanka Trump, who tried to insert herself into every part of the G20 summit. CNN stated that she acted like an “unofficial Secretary of State,” and national security lawyer Carrie Cordero, in a WaPo op-ed, wrote that Trump “broke new ground” even by the low standards of DDT’s administration. Among obvious offenses were her attempts to replace real, qualified diplomats in meetings, her participation in the visit with Kim Jong-Un, her appearance at  Osan Air Base on a visit to troops with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and  the painfully embarrassing effort to interrupt a conversation with UK Prime Minister Theresa May. 

The last episode went viral with a video clip released by the French showing Trump trying to take part in the conversation with May, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and International Monetary Fund Chair Christine Lagarde. May said, “As soon as you start talking about the economic aspect of it though, a lot of people start listening who wouldn’t otherwise listen.” Trump, with her minimal knowledge about women’s empowerment, responded, “And the same with the defense side I think, in terms of the whole ecosystem, it’s been very male dominated.” Lagarde’s expression shows that Trump has made no sense.

The internet exploded with #UnwantedIvanka and tsunamis of parodies photoshopping Trump into classic images from ancient Egypt to the World War II conference in Yalta and the landing with Allied forces on D-Day. She’s even on the moon landing. Tim O’Brien collected many of the tweets. When DDT called her onto the stage and promised that “she’s going to steal the show,” he didn’t know how she would do it.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that “being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification” and U.S. diplomacy should be left to diplomats instead of handbag designers, and Piers Morgan tried to take on the member of Congress. He answered:

“Could be worse… Ivanka could have been a bar-tender 18 months ago.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s response:

 “Actually, that would make government better – not worse. Imagine if more people in power spent years of their lives actually working for a living. We’d probably have healthcare and living wages by now.”

When Trump wasn’t interrupting people, she gave a talk on “women’s empowerment.” The last time she spoke to the G20, at Berlin in 2017, she was “put on the spot about her father’s attitudes toward women, booed and hissed at by the crowd, and grilled by the moderator about what, exactly, her role is in President Donald Trump’s administration.”  She stated that “we must continue to prioritize women’s economic empowerment and place it at the very heart of the G20 agenda.” Since then, Trump’s father has put a gag rule on the United States as well as the rest of the world that denies women reproductive health care and kills them. He stripped women of protections in the workplace and appointed judges who will carry out his anti-women policies.

Trump noted the male domination of the defense industry while her father denied a UN request for the FBI to investigate Saudi Arabia’s torture and dismemberment of a U.S. journalist and resident because it would jeopardize U.S. weapons sales to the Saudis. The same week that Trump extolled women’s empowerment in the rest of the world, E. Jean Carroll presented a credible claim about DDT’s sexual assault; she is the 24th woman to openly accuse him of sexual misconduct.

DDT’s long history of sexism, reducing women to body parts and following his belief of treating them “like sh*t,” establishing a pattern of behavior for other men. His change in definitions of domestic violence and sexual assault to only physical harm rolled women’s rights back to the mid-20th century and empowers domestic abusers. After 25 years to decreasing, domestic violence murders are on the rise, now four women a day instead of three. Ivanka Trump may enjoy the attention she gets on the stage walking about “women’s empowerment” but her father is destroying it in the United States.

Missing from the G20 Summit was National Security Adviser John Bolton, fond of regime changes, who was instead sent to Mongolia. Really! Instead, Fox network’s Tucker Carlson accompanied DDT to North Korea along with DDT’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner.

Ivanka called her walk into North Korea “surreal.” This photograph—not photoshopped—shows the surreal (bizarre and freakish) nature of her takeover at the G20 Summit. Is DDT grooming Ivanka for the president of the United States? 

July 8, 2018

Stop Caging People

An Episcopalian church in VP Mike Pence’s home state has put the Holy Family—Mary, Joseph, and Jesus—“in detention” to protest the separation of migrant children and parents mandated by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Statues of two parents an infant child appear caged, similar to conditions provided by DDT, in front of the Indianapolis church to represent the almost 3,000 children torn from their parents. Dean and Rector Steve Carlson had participated with many of his congregation in the huge “Families Belong Together” rallies, but he wanted to make a stronger statement because DOJ AG Jeff Sessions used an out-of-context bible quotation to justify his inhumane actions. About the statues in the cage, Carlson said, “That family is every family who are seeking safety for their children.”

Pence wants to allow refugees into the U.S.—just not those from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In a meeting with the three Central American countries, he told them to curb illegal immigration, stop public advertisements by human smuggling organizations, and root out corruption. Yet according to Pence, Venezuela refugees are acceptable because they live in “a dictatorship that is tyrannizing its own people,” adding that there is no comparison between life in the South American nation and that in Central America. He attributes his born-again evangelical religious beliefs to his bond with the Venezuelan people. Pence’s religious background allows himself to avoid the facts that the U.S. foreign policy in Central America throughout the past century has promoted the extreme violence causing flight from these countries. And Pence’s complete allegiance to DDT overlooks the massive corruption in the U.S. government.

The White House bible study group is largely responsible for tearing migrant children from their parents. Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, both Pence and DDT give great control of both domestic and foreign policy to evangelicals, led in the White House, Congress, and DDT’s Cabinet by Ralph Drollinger. Taxpayers provide the funding for “significant staff time and resources [invested] in coordinating Christian bible studies every week,” according to information discovered by a FOIA request. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who strongly defended separating families, has a great deal of involvement in these bible studies.

Drollinger is particularly fond of Pence:

“Pence has respect for the office. He dresses right — like it says Joseph cleaned himself up before he went to stand before the Pharaoh.”

Drollinger bragged about DOJ AG Jeff Sessions:

“Jeff Sessions [will] go out the same day I teach him something and he’ll do it on camera. And I just think, man, these guys are faithful, available, and teachable.”

The day before Sessions used the bible to justify the separation of children and families, Drollinger’s lesson used the passage quoted by Sessions to separate families on the border. Drollinger has bragged:

“It follows that when someone breaks the law of the land that they should anticipate that one of the consequences of their illegal behavior will be separation from their children.”

A major question might be if any illegal behavior on the same level as entering the U.S.—traffic violations, drunkenness, trespass, vandalism, discharging a firearm within city limits, etc.—should require separation of children and parents. He made no mention of felonies such as DDT’s Cabinet members perjuring themselves under oath during their confirmation. (Oh yes, their children are grown.)

Drollinger continued:

“God intends for Governments to bear the sword relative to enacting justice. They are to be an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. This means Government is sanctioned, bound, and responsible to punish those who break the law … including illegal immigration.”

Evangelicals, who support DDT despite his sexual misconduct and lying, are also supporting Dennis Hof for the Nevada state legislature. Calling himself “The Trump of Pahrump,” the town where he resides, Hof is a pimp who owns five brothels, married three times while facing multiple allegations of adultery, and sexually harassed his employees. One former sex worker claimed that he raped her. About Hof, Pastor Victor Fuentes said:

“We have politicians, they might speak good words, not sleep with prostitutes, be a good neighbor. But by their decisions, they have evil in their heart. Dennis Hof is not like that.”

About the Liar-in-Chief, Hof said:

“People will set aside for a moment their moral beliefs, their religious beliefs, to get somebody that is honest in office. Trump is the trailblazer, he is the Christopher Columbus of honest politics.”

DDT’s daughter Ivanka donated $50,000 to a Texas church with a history of anti-LGBTQ activism after receiving a tweet that the church wanted to help immigrant children. The Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor Jack Graham also tweeted support for the separation of these children from their families. President of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2003 to 2004, Graham claims 38,000 members in his Plano megachurch.

Evangelicals follow DDT’s view of immigrants as animals: Leigh Mitchell, host of the Faith & Freedom program on the YourVoice American network, accused “children below ten years old engaging in sexual activity.” He added, “All kinds of sin and disgrace and darkness; the pit of the pits.”

DDT’s mandated separation between children and parents at the Mexico border evidences the white people’s deep hatred, an insistence that these people must suffer because they are inferior, that they deserve great punishment. The Christian bible tells stories about victims, but DDT’s policy turns Christian against victims fleeing misery and violence. DDT’s symbol of supremacy for his white followers is a tall wall. Logic shows that the structure will not accomplish safety in the United States, but DDT first created a massive fear of the non-white subhuman people and then a solution that would make his followers feel safe. DDT ran on a platform of fear and hatred, and he hopes that his continued promotion of the same emotions at his rallies will win more elections for himself and the Republicans.

The millions of people protesting for immigrants, women, LGBTQ, the poor, non-Christian religious groups, and other marginalized groups in the United States are fighting the fake “righteousness” exhibited by people claiming to support the U.S. Constitution. Psychologist Jeremy Sherman compared this “token righteousness” to trinkets that people collect:

“Pick some easy, trivial issue and crusade on it pretending that it’s the highest priority, the most epic concern. With token righteousness, you can pose as if your bravely, lovingly saving the world without having to prioritize the truly daunting threats to it.”

Sherman described “a whole charm bracelet of trinket issues to make yourself feel like you’re covering all the marks of righteousness” that owners use to “tinkle … as if tolling the bells of epic righteousness”:

  • For bravery: Defending the second amendment.
  • For civil rights: LGBTQ bathrooms.
  • For national defense: Barring immigration.
  • For care: Anti-abortion.
  • For defending tradition: Anti-gay.
  • For fiscal responsibility: Anti-welfare to others (they’d like to keep their own).
  • For compassion: Devotion to Christ and care for fellow members of their self-righteous exceptionalist cults.
  • For Truth: Faith in the bible.
  • For freedom: Corporate libertarianism.
  • For patriotism: Upholding the flag and opposing the bended knee.
  • For global concern: Anti-Islam, anti-communism.
  • For justice: Lock her up.

Psychologist Otto Rank used the word “partializing” for making these “little something everything,” for example, being anti-abortion to protect fertilized eggs will protect all life. Its triviality allows them to not think. Instead they change the debate by saying “but what about this?” This “form of threat displacement” allows people to make threats “manageable” and pass it on to others. Using these trinkets also makes them more important: i.e., a right to not be offended by marriage equality is a higher priority than the right of same-gender couples to marry.

Trinketing people fail to face the knowledge that their “token righteousness” cannot address the world’s problems. It is the growth of their frantic behavior that makes the United States dangerous for everyone—not just minorities.

DDT’s survival methods:

  • Always lie if you find yourself in trouble.
  • Claim yourself patriotic for anything you want.
  • Take whatever you want …
  • Bully people because you have the right to take anything you want.
  • Violence is the best resort to take what you want.

It’s time to stop using DDT’s methods, take people out of cages, and reunite everyone.

March 5, 2018

DDT: More Week 58: Who’s In, Who’s Out

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:24 PM
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Appointments:

John Dunkin, former personal pilot for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is under consideration for FAA administrator.  In charge of all U.S. civil aviation, the FAA chair oversees a $16 billion annual budget. While Dunkin supervised the DDT campaign air fleet, VP Mike Pence’s plane had several “hard” landings, including a plane ended up 300 feet from a major highway. Dunkin also hired a pilot wanted for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, running over a colleague with his car three times, and deliberately running into someone with a motorcycle. Other DDT hires include:

  • DDT’s golf caddie as the White House Director of Social Media.
  • DDT’s bodyguard as the Director of Oval Office operations.
  • Eric Trump’s wedding planner in charge of HUD for the northeastern United States.
  • The husband of a member of DDT’s household staff at Trump Tower who ran a home contracting company called “Steve’s Tools in Motion” in a job at EPA Region 2 headquarters in New York.
  • DDT’s bankruptcy lawyer as the ambassador to Israel.

And John Dunkin in charge of a life-and-death job.

Wendy Vitter, appointee for a federal judge and wife of GOP Louisiana senator reelected after he confessed to hiring prostitutes from the “D.C. Madam,” omitted her anti-abortion speeches, interview, and letter from a disclosure form for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She skipped information about moderating a panel on the false dangers of abortion that supported the myth about women taking oral contraception having a higher risk of dying violent deaths, cheating on their partners, having fertility problems and unhealthy children, and experiencing poor relationships with their partners.

Resignations:

Hope Hicks, White House communications director who is “like a daughter” to DDT, left after she testified to the House Intelligence Committee that she told “white lies” for DDT. A black lie from November 2016:

“There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

There were contacts between DDT’s campaign and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, top advisers including family members met privately with the Russian emissary about “dirt” on Clinton, George Papadopoulos’ contacted with Russians, Carter Page traveled to Moscow and contacted with Russian officials, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak’s met with a variety of DDT’s campaign surrogates and officials including Jeff Sessions, and Donald Trump Jr. privately communicated with WikiLeaks..

Josh Raffel, White House spokesman and “manager” for DDT’s children, White House officials, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, quit.

Joseph Yun, the top U.S. diplomat with the foreign service since 1985 who is overseeing North Korea policy, retired. Last year, Yun assisted the release of Otto Warmbier, U.S. citizen held prisoner by North Korea.

Roberta S. Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Mexico and one of the most experienced Latin America experts in the State Department, left her position after the growing schism between the two countries and the diplomatic relations being assigned to Jared Kushner. Other major State Department resignations include Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the third-highest ranking official, and John Feeley, the ambassador to Panama.

Matthew Masterson, a GOP member of the Election Assistance Commission who won’t be reappointed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), brings the four-member agency down to two members. Masterson was an expert in non-partisan approaches to help states fight cyber attacks and develop anti-hacking protocols.

H.R. McMaster may resign as National Security Council adviser, his departure facilitated by Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The replacement is reportedly Stephen Biegun, a bigwig at Ford Motor Company who was on the council for a couple of years with the George W. Bush when national security warnings were ignored. He also tried to advise Sarah Palin on foreign policy when she was a VP candidate.

Lawsuits:

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 10-4 that Maryland’s ban on 45 different “assault” weapons, such as the popular AR-15 in mass shootings, and its 10-round limit for magazines does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The court wrote:

“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.”

Last year a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit sent a ruling upholding the ban back to U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake, ordering her to apply “strict scrutiny.” Maryland appealed to the full court which supported its decision. The fourth similar ruling in a decade, it follows the 2008 opinion from SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia in Columbia v. Heller that the right to bear arms “is not unlimited.” Other rulings permitting the ban came from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the 7th Circuit, and the 2nd Circuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear DDT’s appeal of a federal court ruling to continue DACA; DHS must accept renewal applications for 700,000 young Dreamers, making DDT’s arbitrary March 5 deadline moot. Two weeks ago, DDT turned down six bipartisan compromises, including one that funded his wall in exchange for extending DACA protections to Dreamers.

Two victories in LGBTQ rights: The 2nd Circuit Court banned discrimination against LGBTQ workers based on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The DOJ had supported discrimination in the lawsuit in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was fighting the discrimination. Last April the 7th Circuit Court was the first appeals court to ban this discrimination. The 11th Circuit Court ruled for discrimination in a split three-panel decision. The U.S. Supreme Court left in place the Arizona decision recognizing Suzan McLaughln as the legal parent of a child she and her female spouse, Kimberly McLaughlin, conceived through assisted reproduction.

The New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project has asked the Supreme Court to join Hawaii’s challenge to DDT’s travel ban, to be argued before SCOTUS in April. The 4th and 9th Circuit Courts have already ruled against the ban. Syrian filmmaker Kareem Abeed, nominated for an Oscar for Last Man in Aleppo with Feras Fayyad, could not attend the ceremony because of DDT’s travel ban. Also denied entry is Mahmoud Al-Hatter, featured in the movie as co-founder of the White Helmets, a humanitarian volunteer group in rebel-controlled Syria and Turkey that does search and rescue after bombing to evacuate civilians. Russian propaganda has pushed the misinformation from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who accuses them of being a front for Al-Qaeda.

In the second recent lawsuit to reverse DDT’s deportations of people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), eight Haitian and Salvadoran recipients have sued with the argument that the decision was based on discrimination. Both suits use DDT’s “public hostility toward immigrants of color” as evidence. One of the Salvadoran plaintiffs began as a kitchen assistant and now has four Boston restaurants; he employs over 20 U.S. citizens.

A federal court ruled that South Dakota’s March 27 petition deadline is too early and that the 2.5 percent mandate of voters too high for a new political party in the state primary.

A federal judge stopped construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in southern Louisiana, the southern extension of the Bakken Pipeline until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reconsider its environmental impacts.

Without permanent security clearance, Ivanka Trump explained the new U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. An ambassador didn’t have this responsibility because DDT fired his nominee, Victor Cha, after Cha disagreed with DDT’s threats toward North Korea.

Net neutrality is dead, and AT&T is dancing on the body. After its claim that nothing will change, the company texted its customers to tell them that it’s expanding zero rating, content exempt from arbitrary usage caps, to “some” content meaning that which already belongs to AT&T and “sponsored” data—that is paying AT&T.

DDT hasn’t saved coal: the average for the closure of a plant every 16 days in 2017 matches the average for President Obama’s eight years.

DDT wants to emulate Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in killing drug dealers—over 12,000 in the past two years. “You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them,’” DDT said.

The faculty at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA), self-identified as “among the nation’s premier research universities,” voted to rescind an honorary degree given DDT in 1988. The decision is now with the Board of Trustees which took no action on a petition with 35,000 signatures.

DDT’s most bizarre tweet last week:

“I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved. Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed.”

California officials fought the project, and the administration has no change in policy, despite a judge’s ruling that the wall can be built with no attention to environmental and endangered species laws.

Melanie Trump stayed in the U.S. on a “genius” visa, the EB-1, for only the highest accomplished artists, doctors, academics, and engineers in 2001. Only 3,376 immigrants with “extraordinary ability” were granted of the one million visas that year.

DDT’s problems in the White House:

A new poll sponsored by a conservative group shows that 77 percent of millennial voters, ages 18 to 35, want action to oppose human-caused climate change, and only ten percent oppose any action. Even 57 percent of millennial Republicans want to stop or slow climate change. Over twice as many millennials think that the country is “on the wrong track” as those who see it in “the right direction.” Last week, DDT’s approval rating was 35 percent.

October 7, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-seven – Raking Up Big Numbers

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can now take credit for the deadliest massacre in modern U.S. history—59 59 dead and at least 527 people in Las Vegas this week. These are the “secret” White House talking points in an effort to stop any talk about common sense gun laws, as indicated in a leak: pray and monitor; wait for any “political debate” until facts are known; protect the people through the Second Amendment; can’t stop a “mad man” with “new laws” because “they will curtail the freedoms of law-abiding citizens; don’t need guns for terrorist attacks; allow people to protect themselves with concealed carry; and don’t “rush toward compromising our freedoms before we have all the facts.” In other words, legislative business as usual—tax cuts!

Another leak this week that hit the comedy routines was DDT’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling DDT a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting last July. Tillerson was forced  to call DDT “smart” in a press conference, but he didn’t deny that he used that term for DDT. The comment was made after DDT’s appearance at the Boy Scouts Jamboree; Tillerson was its leader from 2010 to 2012.

Tillerson has also been frustrated because DDT’s publicly undermines him, for example, the dispute when Middle Eastern countries blockaded Qatar, sanctions on Venezuela, aid to Israel, and, most recently, DDT’s tweet that Tillerson should not negotiate with North Korea. The day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached out to North Korea for talks, DDT tweeted that he was “wasting his time” and “we’ll do what has to be done!”  Just 37 percent trust Trump to responsibly handle the North Korea standoff.

In opposition to Tillerson, DDT indicated that he will back out of the Iranian agreement, leaving them free to develop nuclear weapons. The Nobel Committee cited this as one reason to award its Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for its efforts in advancing negotiations leading to the first treaty to prohibit nuclear arms. The world’s nine nuclear-armed powers and their allies—including the United States—boycotted the negotiations, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis threatened Sweden with retribution if the country supported the treaty. Fifty-three UN member states signed the treaty, and three of them have formally ratified it since the process started on September 20.

Tillerson has formed a “pact” with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of Treasury that all three will resign if DDT fires one of them.

DDT did get to Puerto Rico almost two weeks after Maria was the second hurricane to hit the island, stayed in populated areas, and left an hour early. [Right: DDT shows a different kind of “compassion” to hurricane victims.]

While there, DDT:

  • Refused to mention or communicate with the mayor of San Juan;
  • Complained about the cost of the two hurricanes’ damage while saying how happy he is to spend “hundreds of millions” on the F-35, a plane has never flown a mission and “you can’t see” (according to DDT);
  • Said that Puerto Rico was not a “real catastrophe like Katrina;
  • Ignored the devastation on the island;
  • Threw rolls of paper towels into a crowd of survivors in a church, perhaps appearing to “distribute” supplies;
  • Praised the place for its beautiful weather;
  • Told hurricane victims to “have a good time”;
  • Said he was doing an “A+” job.

DDT has not yet submitted a request for aid to Puerto Rico. As he bragged about the wonderful response to the disaster, over half the people have no clean drinking water, and 95 percent of them have no electricity. DDT handed out flashlights but said that the people didn’t need them. Only one of the island’s 69 hospitals is fully operational, 59 of the 69 hospitals are operating on generators. Local officials talked about the lack of assistance. The mayor in a city of 54,000 said that they had received 10,000 meals, and one woman in the city said she had seen no supplies except for a case of water after 11 days. DDT waited ten days to waive the requirement that food stamps be used only in grocery stores despite the inability of these facilities to process the stamps.

After he returned from Puerto Rico, DDT said that he might wipe out the territory’s $72 billion debt, mostly held in huge hedge funds, but his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said, “We’re absolutely not going to bail them out.” As the U.S. seems incapable of helping Puerto Rico, Germany is donating 15 microgrids around the island for power emergency centers that combine solar panels and batteries.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley voted no for a resolution calling on countries to not use the death penalty for discrimination in cases of consensual adultery and same-gender relations. Twenty-seven countries supported the resolution while the U.S. was one of 13 countries, primarily those in the Middle East and Asia, that opposed it. Seven countries abstained. Former UN Ambassador Susan Rice tweeted about the vote, “Not even Russia and Iran stooped as low as we did.” The U.S. does use the death penalty as discrimination against minorities, women, and poor people.

The congressional conclusion that Russian attempted to hack into U.S. voting machines and influenced U.S. voters through social media has been followed by DDT’s request that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate the U.S. press. DDT’s constant attacks on the media as “fake news” has a benefit for the media. The 48 percent of people who have confidence in the press is up nine percent since last November whereas the same 48 percent having a measure of faith in DDT is down three percent.

Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is also being investigated for his reassignment of Joel Clement after Clement showed how climate change affects Alaska’ Native communities. An earlier probe came from his threats to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in an attempt to get her vote for the health care bill.

Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr. are in the hot seat with their emails, including publicity about how they barely evaded indictment on felony fraud charges in 2012 regarding their failed project, Trump SoHo, but donations to a campaign saved them. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. made prosecutors drop the case after DDT’s attorney Marc Kasowitz gave $25,000 to the DA’s reelection campaign with another $50,000 from DDT and other donors later on.

The use of official emails on Ivanka’s and Don Jr.’s personal accounts may have compromised national security:

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have shared official White House materials on the Kushner family’s private domain, in a third private account recently discovered. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts, one of these people said. Kushner set up ijkfamily.com when he joined DDT’s administration.

Apps on Kushner’s and Ivanka’s private email automatically deleted communications for official matters, an illegal action that other of DDT’s White House officials have also taken.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to White House counsel last week requesting more information about the White House staff use of private email addresses for official business, including disappearing message apps.

Both Kushner and Ivanka moved their email accounts to Trump Organization after the letter stating that the records not be destroyed, modified, or transferred. Cummings pointed out that their action also violates their pledge to not be a part of Trump Organization.

https://www.mediaite.com/online/rachel-maddow-reports-that-secret-service-is-banning-mobile-devices-from-west-wing/  More problems arose after it was discovered that the cell phone of John Kelly, former National Security Advisor and current chief of staff, was compromised with the establishment of new guidelines. Personal mobile devices—including tablets, cell phones, and smart watches—are to be prohibited from the West Wing. The question is whether DDT’s cell phone is part of this ban.

ACLU immediately filed a lawsuit against the government after AG Jeff Sessions announced that businesses and organizations can use religious belief or “moral conviction” to avoid providing free birth control on its insurance plans. A majority of people, even Republicans, disagree with DDT. The same excuse can also be used to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

The ACLU is also suing to lift unreasonable FDA restrictions on Mifeprex, a safe and effective method of ending an early pregnancy up to 10 weeks, from pharmacies.

DDT may also be able to take credit for the worst hurricane destruction of any president. The fourth major storm to hit the U.S. in less than nine months has killed 30 people in Central America and has now hit the Louisiana coast. Nate, the fourth major storm to strike the United States in less than two months, killed at least 30 people in Central America before entering the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on the US South. Over 40 percent of the Gulf’s staffed oil- and gas-producing platforms were evacuated. The storm, now a Category One, still has winds of about 100 mph and possible storm surges of 10 feet but should weaken on land. It may be the worst hurricane in Mississippi since Katrina in 2005.

June 14, 2017

Media Consumed by Sessions’ Testimony, Emoluments Clause Lawsuits

The most transparent—in some ways—action in Congress this week was the testimony of AG Jeff Sessions when he complained about “scurrilous” allegations, waffled on some answers, and claimed that “only the president can claim executive privilege.” The head of the Department of Justice doesn’t even know the law: both presidents and members of their administration can refuse to answer questions or even respond to subpoenas. Sessions passed along an erroneous perspective of executive privilege that Brian Williams falsely confirmed on MSNBC.  The AG found himself in a pickle with his false claim.

John McCain (R-AZ), a guest at the hearing because he is on another committee, complained about Kamala Harris (D-CA) who tried to keep Sessions from limiting her questions by talking nonstop. A notable Sessions quote to her is that being rushed “makes me nervous.” Chair Richard Burr allowed Sessions to take up time by grandstanding Harris’ (left) questions, the same way that he did last week in testimony by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Sessions smirked when he was able to avoid her last “yes or no” question. He had preceded his stalling by vigorously stating, ”I am not stonewalling.” (It’s not good when a person has to deny this!) People being questioned know that senators have a finite number of minutes, and they can avoid embarrassing questions by stalling. Sessions insisted that he didn’t answer questions because DDT may want to declare executive privilege any time in the future.

Sessions declared that he was “following the historic policies of the Department of Justice” by not answering questions, but he could not cite any of these policies when Harris asked him about specifics.  Other senators brought up former AG Eric Holder’s refusal to discuss conversations with President Obama as precedent for Sessions’ refusals to answer questions, not a good idea because he was held in contempt. As Sessions pointed out, however, he was testifying in front of his “colleagues” so there probably won’t be a problem of that sort.

The male senators have a history of reprimanding only female senators. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) silenced Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during confirmation hearings for Sessions and then complained, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Much of Sessions’ testimony was “I can’t answer that” and “I can’t recall.” But other parts were more revealing than that from James Comey, who released his information the day before the hearing.

  • Sessions claimed at the beginning of the hearing that he had no third meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak but he started to hedge his answers about the issue throughout his testimony.
  • Sessions claimed that he had recused himself from all DDT ties to Russia the day after he was sworn into office, but there is a question why no one—not the public and not his associates—knew about the recusal for another month.
  • Sessions said he doesn’t know if Russia was involved with the presidential election because he didn’t read anything about the possibility except in the media.
  • Sessions covered for DDT by disclaiming Comey’s testimony, finally exploding into calling it a “secret innuendo.”

GOP senators may have covered for Sessions in the hearing, but Burr did request—very politely—further information and documents from him.

On the same day that Sessions gave his weak testimony, at least 196 Democrats in Congress sued DDT for violating the Emolument Clause, the part of the U.S. Constitution that prevents presidents from taking gifts from foreign nations without the approval of Congress. Like other lawsuits against DDT in connection with the Emoluments Clause, this one will ask that DDT reveal his business affairs and put his holdings in a blind trust or sell them. A court ruling for these members of Congress to proceed would make history as the first since the U.S. became a country.

Other lawsuits come from owners of businesses in Washington, D.C. competing with DDT’s hotels and restaurants and the states of D.C. and Maryland represented by their attorneys general because businesses are at a disadvantage. Soon after DDT’s inauguration, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued DDT on the same basis of the other lawsuits. There is no precedent for the suit, now pending in New York, but an argument for dismissing the case is lack of standing for the plaintiffs. Several examples of DDT profiting are listed in the lawsuit, including the lease for the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China that is due to expire during DDT’s term. Favorable terms for the rental could be a financial gift to the president.

Government lawyers contend that this prohibition doesn’t count for DDT. If a federal court decides whether the case can continue, the plaintiffs will request that DDT’s personal tax returns be publicly revealed.

Another media concern for the week is whether DDT plans to fire the special investigator selected by Rosenstein to investigate Russia–and probably DDT. Technically, he cannot do that, but he can fire Rosenstein and keep replacing him until he finds someone for the Justice Department who will then fire the investigator. Sessions has no control because he has recused himself, but he may violate the recusal as he has in recommending that James Comey be fired. At this time, the White House claims that there are no plans to get rid of the investigator because staffers begged him to do it, but DDT’s decision depends on who he talked with last.

Last week, DDT’s declaration of “Infrastructure Week” failed to draw attention from James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He tried the same thing this week with a focus on workplace development. At the same time, people are learning more about the workplaces that provide clothing for daughter Ivanka Trump’s business. Ivanka’s claim of “women’s empowerment” and “paid child care” rings hollow with the revelation that the women working in the factory manufacturing Ivanka-branded clothing make so little that they cannot afford to live with their children. Employees at the factory in Subang (Indonesia) earn $173 a month, the lowest legal wage in the entire country. The factory does give them an extra $10.50 if they don’t take time off for menstrual periods.

Workers making Ivanka’s clothes in China earned about $62 per week, below the legal minimum wage, and sometimes work 86 hours overtime a month with the legal limit at 36 hours. Since April, Ivanka has said that they no longer buy clothes from that factory—maybe because Indonesia is cheaper. That was the rationale for moving Ivanka’s shoe factory from China to Ethiopia last year: five Ethiopians at the Addis Ababa are paid the same as one Chinese worker.

Spearheaded by Ivanka Trump, the week focuses on promotion of expansion of apprenticeship programs. Will this allow lower pay than minimum wage so that Ivanka’s and DDT’s business purchases can come to the U.S.? The media has paid almost no attention, however, as Jeff Sessions, Russia, and lawsuits are swallowing up the news.

May 22, 2017

‘Pay for Play,’ Or Women ‘Empowerment’ in Saudi Arabia

The first stop on a world trip by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) garnered big bucks for his daughter Ivanka. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates gave her $134 million for her new initiative to “benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe.” Women Entrepreneurs Fund seems to be the sort of “pay for play” activity that DDT accused Hillary Clinton of running in the Clinton Foundation. Last year DDT was furious that the Clinton Foundation accepted money from Saudi Arabia because they treat “women as slaves” and “kill gays.” He added, “Hillary must return all money from such countries!”

About the countries who just donated money to Ivanka’s fund, DDT said to Clinton during a debate last year:

“You talk about women and women’s rights. These are people that push gays off business — off buildings. These are people that kill women and treat women horribly, and yet you take their money. So I’d like to ask you right now. Why don’t you give back the money that you’ve taken from certain countries that treat certain groups of people so horribly? Why don’t you give back the money. I think it would be a great gesture.”

Of course, this was because the countries had donated to the Clinton Foundation, which did not accept any donations from Saudi Arabia while Clinton was Secretary of State. Donations to DDT’s daughter is just fine.

Scrutiny of Ivanka’s project caused her to claim that the World Bank would manage the investment fund. Yet it is widely known by both domestic and foreign officials that Ivanka has an office in the West Wing, meets with foreign leaders, and advises her father on many presidential matters. Writing her a check can make Ivanka’s father very happy. Ethics experts have objected to Ivanka’s leadership in gathering funds. Kathleen Clark at the Washington University in St. Louis said that it was unclear whether Ivanka had “any governmental authority” to make such requests. Richard Painter, Bush’s ethics czar, declared:

“It absolutely cannot be a private fund. She can’t be at the White House soliciting money for a private foundation. We went through this with Hillary Clinton, who resigned from her foundation when she took a job as secretary of state.”

Presidents and their families can be legally involved in philanthropy, but their efforts are subject to a lengthy approval process to guarantee there is no special access or influence or influence for donors. One example is “Let Girls Learn,” a Michelle and Barack Obama charity that supports educational opportunities for teen girls in developing countries. In 2016 the World Bank invested $2.5 billion in the project, stating that the empowerment of girls was “central” to the group’s development efforts. Earlier this year, DDT’s White House sent a memo to Peace Corps employees ending the program. After public outcry, a White House official indicated that it would continue the work—just not the name or probably any connection to the Obamas. Yet Jennifer Rigg, executive director of Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US), said, “We haven’t seen any new commitments, partners, or projects of Let Girls Learn announced since the start of the current administration.” DDT’s new budget provides deep cuts for Peace Corps–as well as everything else except the military.

During Clinton’s campaign, DDT attacked her for connections to Goldman Sachs, which is now deeply entrenched in the White House with at least six high-level officials. Dina Powell, who headed up the investment bank’s project to provide business education for women throughout the world, 10,000 Women, is working with Ivanka on this fund-raising. Ivanka’s chief of staff is Julie Radford, previous leader of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business initiative, which invested in small U.S. businesses. Information about Ivanka’s project is very sketchy, and Dan Primack has several questions:

  • Do these investments need a financial return, or are they are a grant or loan?
  • Who is on the investment committee, and will they get paid?
  • How are the people behind the project actively soliciting contributions from private institutions and foreign governments, and has White House counsel signed off on the project?
  • Will the fund get capital from U.S. state pension funds, similar to other private equity funds?
  • How will the fund balance interests of U.S. companies that might receive direct competition from foreign startups that receive investment?

In her speech about women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia, Ivanka glowed about how well the nation treats women, saying that the country’s “progress” in its treatment of women “is very encouraging.” Journalists were asked to leave the room before problems of women’s inequality could be brought up, such as women not having the right to drive, go anywhere alone, or be included in public life. U.S. officials also ignored these issues. Women reporters were banned from most of Ivanka’s event on women’s empowerment with Princess Reema bint Bandar.

In Saudi Arabia, adult women must have permission from a male guardian to travel, marry, work, and have access healthcare. Without a male relative, they also struggle with transactions such as renting an apartment or filing legal claims. Saudi women who attempt the restrictions of male control are jailed. Restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia extend to their garb. Even most foreign visitors—although not Melania and Ivanka Trump—are required to wear floor-length black dresses—no pants—that cover all the body including arms and legs. A head scarf should cover their head and hide their hair. More conservative women wear veils that also cover their faces, save for a slit that makes their eyes visible. In the past, First Ladies of the U.S. have dressed modestly but not in conformance with the mandated dress for Saudi women. DDT was highly critical when Michelle Obama failed to wear a scarf, accusing her of creating enemies.

Although 38 women were elected in December 2015 for a total of 3,159 municipal positions, Saudi Arabian councils are segregated by sex: women participate only through a video link in a separate room. Women are also denied the opportunities given males in sports: women were not allowed to attend or participate in national tournaments or state-organized sports leagues until last summer when four women represented Saudi Arabia in the Rio Olympics.

Aziza al-Yousef, a 58-year-old activist, said, “If Ivanka is interested in women empowerment and human rights, she should see activists, and not just officials.” As Ivanka wrote in her 2009 book, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life, “Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true.”

The donation to Ivanka Trump raises a few question:

  • Is it just a coincidence that Ivanka gets $134 million at the same time that Saudi Arabia is able to buy at least $110 billion in lethal weapons from the United States and she travels to the country as “assistant to the president of the United States”?
  • Is it now acceptable that Ivanka receive at least $134 million from countries that her father describes as abusers of women and killers of gays?
  • And is $134 million enough for Ivanka to describe herself as an “advocate for the education & empowerment of women & girls” while ignoring the donor that lacks these values?

Time will tell.

May 20, 2017

DDT: Week Seventeen outside Russia

You Can Make a Difference: You can make your voice heard! The Department of Interior is considering rollbacks for protections of up to 27 national monuments;  the public comment period ends on May 26 for Utah’s Bears Ears and on July 20 for all the others. All the monuments, created after 1996, that are considered for the chopping block are larger than 100,000 acres. They were created through the 1906 Antiquities Act, but the law has never been used to eliminate them. The plan by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is probably to open these public lands to logging, mining, and grazing. One of the monuments being considered is the Grand Canyon-Parashant on the north side of the Colorado River. More advice on protesting the elimination of public lands.

Last week’s news about DDT concentrated on connections with Russia, including his telling Russian officials in the Oval Office that former FBI director James Comey is a “nut job” and firing him took off “great pressure because of Russia.” But DDT was surrounded by far more issues.

DDT’s lack of financial transparency has become murkier since his tax attorneys told him to submit an updated financial disclosure in lieu of his tax returns without signing it, meaning that he won’t certify the information as true. Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, said that his office required DDT’s signature for certification, and DDT claimed that he will certify the information by mid-June. Without the signature, incorrect financial information cannot result in a fine or referral for criminal persecution. The same lawyers at Morgan Lewis also wrote a letter testifying to DDT’s lack of financial ties with Russia except for about $100 million. The longtime firm for the Trump Organization was named Russia Law Firm of the Year in 2016.

Sheriff David Clarke, under scrutiny for the death of a man denied water for a week in Clarke’s jail in Milwaukee (WI), said he will be assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He calls transgender people mentally ill, that they lead a “freakish lifestyle, and he asked for “pitchforks and torches” in response to the Supreme Court legalizing marriage equality. Clarke also referred to Islam as “a sick ideology” and that “we ought to just try to kill it.” He plagiarized chunks of his 2013 master’s thesis on U.S. security and wears medals that are probably not legitimate, according to veterans.

Another inappropriate DDT nominee is his possible selection of former Sen. Joe Lieberman for FBI director. In addition to great antipathy from Democrats because of his past actions, Lieberman is employed by the law firm that has represented DDT for at least six years. Nominating the 75-year-old man would indicate a heavy politicization for a position that should be independent and separate from any branches of the government, including the executive. His selection of the lately-come conservative, however, fits DDT’s neocon philosophy because Lieberman fails to see the importance of Bill of Rights protections.

DDT also plans to appoint Newt Gingrich’s ex-mistress and now wife, Callista, as ambassador to the Vatican. At least the country would have one woman.

DDT’s hosting his tyrant-of-the-week, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, led to the injury of 11 people when members of Erdogan’s security detail attacked peaceful protesters across from the Turkish embassy. Nine of the injured were sent to the hospital after Erdogan watched the attack from his car. The Turkish government described the protesters as “terrorists” and said that the demonstrators were being “provocative.” DDT said nothing about the attacks but compliments Erdogan for his leadership. New Jersey resident Ceren Borazan, one of the attack victims wrote:

“My Kurdish friends and allies were protesting peacefully against Erdogan being in Washington when were suddenly attacked by a group of Erdogan’s official bodyguards and secret police. They attacked women, children and elderly with reckless abandon.”

Borazan was strangled, punched and kicked by Erdogan’s personal guards. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this thuggish behavior.” Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) agreed and called on the State Department and DOJ to press charges. He said, “Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior.” The attackers are probably protected by diplomatic immunity.

The GOP party that claims a belief in states’ rights has blocked a rule encouraging states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers whose employers don’t provide these plans. The rule would have exempted these state plans from the law that outlines rules for workplace savings. Last month the GOP eliminated this benefit for cities and counties. In fact, the rollback of the rule sends more money to Wall Street, showing that the GOP loves regulations that send money to the wealthiest. The GOP plan keeps people from saving before taking away their Social Security.

With the daily DDT scandals, Republican members of Congress are avoiding television appearances. CBS This Morning invited 20 Republican lawmakers and White House staff to appear on the program; they all declined. Chris Hayes reported the same for his MSNBC program. Even Fox is having trouble, and Tucker Carlson said that Kellyanne Conway backed out of her scheduled appearance on his show.. Fox and Friends had to resort to its news of the day—the cancellation of Tim Allen’s sitcom.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer may be on the way out, and Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, self-proclaimed “patriot,” has said that she’s “in conversations” for the job. She lists “deep knowledge” as a requirement for the job, but she’s already passed the “leaking” qualification.  Another one is her support for a leader—like Putin or Netanyahu—who can easily destroy ISIS with military force, troops, and bombings. Putin, according to Guilfoyle, could fix the United States if he led the country for 48 hours. Her strongest credential for DDT, however, is her statement on Fox that James Clapper said in his Senate testimony about Russia that “there is no evidence of collusion.” That’s what DDT said, but Clapper said the opposite.

The White House staff members have become so manipulative that they are feeding DDT false information. K.T. McFarland gave DDT a printout of two Time covers about a coming ice age and surviving global warming. DDT doesn’t look at the Internet so he didn’t know that 1970s cover were part of a hoax circulating for years. He attaches so much significance to printouts he receives that they guide his agenda and control his appointments. Last February someone gave DDT a printout from the fake GotNews.com about deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh being behind numerous leaks, and she was forced out of the White House.

Imagine if Dictator Donald Trump had to pay expenses—including those for the Secret Service—to travel to his own properties where he makes money from the visits? That’s a bill that Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has introduced. The Stop Waste and Misuse by the President (SWAMP) Act states that Trump’s travel “results in the American taxpayer effectively subsidizing the president’s businesses.”

DDT sniveled his way through a graduation address at the Coast Guard Academy, well described here. In response to his complaint that “no politician in history … has been treated worse or more unfairly,” CNN’s Jake Tapper responded, “Four U.S. Presidents have been actually literally assassinated and killed.” DDT was addressing young people who will be putting themselves into physical danger—unlike DDT who dodged the draft.

A couple bits of good news: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed the Fairbanks Declaration over a week ago, indicating the need to slow the impact of climate change in the Arctic. And the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal for the decision from the 4th Circuit Court to strike down North Carolina’s voter restriction law. A judge in the lower court ruling had stated that the state’s ballot restrictions targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” The law had required approved ID, dropped early voting from 17 to 10 days, stopped out-of-precinct voting, blocked same-day registration and voting, and eliminating preregistration by 16-year-olds. It may be a temporary fix because GOP state legislators are already planning another path to voter suppression.

Update on Jason Chaffetz from the May 10 post: He announced his resignation on June 30 and told lawmakers that he’ll be on the Fox network. Even conservatives are not happy about his bailing out a job he took only six months ago. Why is he leaving? Family is always cited, but does he think that the Russian scandal could bring him down? Meanwhile, colleagues are telling him to immediately step down from his committee chair position.

DDT may think that his days are numbered in the White House. He’s put his Caribbean estate for sale at a greatly inflated price, probably looking for another Russian billionaire to grab it up while DDT is still supposedly president. Emolument’s Clause, anyone?

Robin Bell’s projection art at DDT’s Washington hotel is the most recent in the anti-DDT artistic movement and the fifth of his Bell’s projections. This one protests DDT’s on-going violation of the Emoluments Clause preventing him from taking “gifts” from foreign nations.

A picture is worth a thousand words! A rogue Barnes & Noble shopper revised the book display touting Ivanka Trump’s new book.

April 22, 2017

DDT: Thirteenth Week inside the U.S.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) crowned the week of the March for Science by firing his U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. Possibly, Murthy’s belief that the over 33,000 deaths and more tens of thousands of woundings from gun violence is a public health issue doesn’t align with DDT’s philosophy. Murthy also believes in vaccinations for children. He had another two years in his four-year term.

Misogynist in Charge of Women’s Issues: DDT has put 31-year-old speech writer Stephen Miller in charge of women’s issues. He has denied the gender wage gap, stating that women just work fewer hours than men; opposed paid maternity leave; and claimed that “in modern-day America, there is a place for gender roles” because closing the gap will force men to give up a “noble career.”

Rally instead of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner: The traditional annual dinner in 2011 to benefit the press association may have been the start for DDT’s push to become president, but he will be the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan after he was recovering from a failed assassination attempt. Instead DDT announced he will hold a “BIG” rally in Harrisburg (PA) at the culmination of the Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association Jubilee. Hours before the traditional dinner is Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.” DDT’s 100th day in office will be a busy day for political wonks.

Another Conservative Loss in Texas: For the third time this month, a court has ruled against the state’s voting laws, this time stating that the GOP-drawn voter map violates the U.S. Constitution with intentional discrimination against minorities. It’s a trifecta: the voter ID law, congressional maps, and state legislative maps all violate the federal Voting Rights Act. Now Texas faces the possibility of mandated federal approval before changing voting laws—not that big a deal since racist Jeff Sessions heads the “Department of Justice.” The minority vote on the panel of three argued that the maps were drawn to favor the Republican party rather than to discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Deported Dreamers: Last year, DDT complained that a judge’s “Mexican heritage” prejudices him against DDT. Born in the U.S., Judge Gonzalo Curiel will now hear another case related to DDT, this one to determine whether DACA participant Juan Manual Montes Bojorquez was illegally deported. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has claimed that no person with an active DACA status has been deported, but Borjorquez is one of several people who disprove Kelly’s assertion.

Proposed Nuclear Storage in Nevada: For the past 30 years, Nevada has fought an underground facility at Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste. The issue was supposedly over in 2016, but DDT has allotted $120 million to resume licensing operations. Nevada opposed the plan on a variety of concerns, including volcanic hazard estimates, corrosion and toxic contamination risks. An experiment to determine Yucca’s suitability showed underground water and waste seepage issues, and research indicates that the place is “geologically and hydrologically active and complex.” Using Yucca Mountain would cost approximately $100 billion. DDT might want to consider what a nuclear accident at Yucca Mountain would do to his Las Vegas hotel.

Lawsuit against DDT’s Inciting Violence: In a lawsuit against DDT’s encouraging his supporters to be violent, his lawyers claim that a president can’t be sued, but the perpetrator of the violence blames DDT. A lawyer for Alvin Bamberger, who was taped shoving protesters over a year ago, wrote that Bamberger “would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or the Trump Campaign’s specific urging and inspiration.” Bamberger even wants DDT to pay his damages if he loses the lawsuit. A year ago February, DDT told an Iowa audience:

“So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, okay, just knock the hell. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees; I promise, I promise.”

Another DDT-supporter, Matthew Heimbach, has claimed that he “acted pursuant to the directives and requests of Donald J. Trump and Donald J. Trump for President” and that “any liability must be shifted to one or both of them.” In his filing, Heimbach wrote that he “relied on Trump’s reputation and expertise in doing the things alleged.” DDT’s lawyers are also trying to stop a defamation civil suit filed by one of the women who accused DDT of sexual misconduct through the same claim that no one can sue the president.

No First Amendment Rights for Protesters: In response to the lawsuits about violence at DDT rallies, lawyers argued that protesters “have no right” to “express dissenting views” at his campaign rallies because such protests infringed on his First Amendment rights. According to DDT’s lawyers, he was protected by First Amendment rights, but dissenting people don’t receive the same constitutional protection at his rallies.

DDT’s Continued Profiteering from Current Campaign: On Inauguration Day, DDT announced his candidacy for president in 2020. Last week’s filings show that over six percent of his current take—about $500,000—goes to DDT-owned hotels, golf clubs and restaurants, including $274,013 in rent to Trump Tower, $58,685 for lodging to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., and $13,828 for facility rental and catering to the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. Donald Trump predicted his “scampaign,” several years ago:

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

Yup.

New Chief of Staff in White House: Before DDT was inaugurated, he said his children would have no role in his administration. Then Ivanka Trump joined as a senior adviser. It was legal because she wasn’t being paid. Now Ivanka, the “special” assistant, has a taxpayer-funded chief of staff. As well as a taxpayer-funded close adviser. And who knows how many more staff members for a member of DDT’s family.

While taxpayers suffer, Ivanka Trump adds to her fortune because of her father’s “connections.” On the same night that she and her husband sat next to Chinese president Xi Jinping, China gave her three new trademarks with monopoly rights for her brand of jewelry, bags, and spa services, in addition to the existing 13 trademarks and 32 pending applications. She has over 180 pending and registered trademarks throughout the world. Her imports into the U.S., mostly from China, increased 166 percent last year and another 40 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Both Ivanka and her husband have extensive communication with China’s government. Kushner’s financial disclosure form lists 24 corporate entities directly related to his wife’s company, but Ivanka has not filed a disclosure.

Smaller Easter Egg Roll at White House: DDT managed to survive the Easter Egg Roll with a rare appearance by First Lady Melania who had to remind DDT to put his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Asked by a child to autograph a hat, DDT complied and then threw it away into the crowd while grinning like a little kid and the child screams “No!” Attendance was about half that at President Obama’s Easter event although Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the former president had lied about the numbers during his terms. The event has been touted as a success, perhaps because it was run by 400 President Obama volunteer holdovers. My favorite tweet from the event, however, comes from David Frum, past ? for George W. Bush: “The people who f—cked up the White House Easter Egg Roll are asking America to follow them into war without allies in NE Asia?” [DDT’s first Easter Egg Roll]

Dropping Polls: The pundits may have loved the DDT’s bombing in the Middle East, but his actions haven’t brought the hoped-for bump in popularity. Except for glowing comments from far-right media, polls show that he’s still at the lowest approval rating for new presidents, somewhere around 40 percent. Even worse is the loss of 17 points in the number of people who think that DDT keeps his promises—from 62 percent in February to 45 percent in April after people had a chance to watch him as president. He also lost seven points in being seen as a “strong and decisive leader” and a president who “can bring about changes the country needs.” The percentage of people who said they see him as “honest and trustworthy” also dropped by six points. Fewer than half of voters (46 percent) say they are “very or somewhat confident” in Trump’s ability to work with Congress, down from a 60 percent majority in December.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) has also dropped to 29 percent approval with with 54 percent disapproving. And that’s before this next week with the zombie health care reappearing and the potential of a government shutdown if DDT’s staff carries through with their blackmail threats.

August 18, 2016

Couples Forced to Annul Adoption before Marrying

Twenty years ago, I met a lesbian couple who managed to get the same rights of married couples when the mother of one of them adopted the other one. As “sisters,” they were able to have the same rights that married couples have, i.e., visiting each other in the hospital. Since then, I discovered that other same-gender couples took a different route by one of them adopting the other one.

Another route for same-gender couples to have the same rights as married couples is for one of them to adopt the other. Two gay couples talked about what happened after they followed this route and then wanted to marry each other after marriage equality became the law of the land. Typically, adoption cannot be overturned; they are parent and child in perpetuity. But two Pennsylvania couples tried to have their adoptions annulled because getting married while the adoption is still legal would violate state incest laws that exist in 25 states.

couple 1

With Couple 1 (above left), Bill Novak adopted Norman MacArthur in 2000 after they had been partners for more than three decades. They persuaded a judge to annul their adoption in 2015 and then married in Bucks County where they had retired from Brooklyn (NY). Bill said that he adopted Norman because they would be legally considered strangers if one of them was hospitalized. In 2000, they were told that “hell would freeze over” because Pennsylvania would allow the gay couple to marry. When Norm had heart surgery in 2002, two years after the adoption, the sign on the door to the Cardiac-Intensive Care Unit stated “immediate family only.”

Twelve years later, the lawyer who finalized the adoption said that it couldn’t be undone. But some judges in the county understood the importance of adoption annulment so that the couple could marry. In the court proceedings, the judge said, “The times have changed and the laws must change with them,” and vacated the adoption. They immediately got their marriage license, and Bill said, “After 52 years together, it was already the world’s longest engagement.” This year the couple is celebrating their first wedding anniversary.

When Judge Gary B. Gilman of Bucks County vacated Novak’s adoption decree last year, the couple’s lawyer, Terry Clemons said, “It removes the hurdle for other people who may be in the same position as Bill and Norm.” He was wrong, as shown by another Pennsylvania couple who tried to get an annulment.

Couple 2 (above right), Nino Esposito and Roland “Drew” Bosee, spent another Father’s Day this year as an adoptive couple, however, because another judge refused to annul their adoption. Retired teacher Esposito adopted former freelance writer Bosee in 2012 after they had lived together more than 40 years as a same-gender couple and only ten states had marriage equality laws. The judge accused the couple of trying to get tax advantages and refused to annul the adoption. He said that the annulment can be granted only in cases of fraud and reversing it could put all adoptions in jeopardy.

After the couple was denied the annulment to their adoption, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to issue guidance to courts so that same-gender couples could easily annul their adoption in order to marry. It appears that this has not been done.

Whether this kind of adoption is common is hard to know. Angela Giampolo, a Philadelphia lawyer specializing in LGT law, said that there are no statistics. Yet there are stories of other couples, some of them famous, in which one adopts the other.

bayard rustin

Black activist Bayard Rustin (above left) helped set up the famous 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1982, Rustin decided to adopt Walter Naegle after they had been together for five years so that Naegle could inherit his estate. For the gay couple to do this, Naegle’s biological mother had to legally disown him, and then a social worker came to the couple’s home to ensure that it was suitable for a child. The adoption gave Naegle visiting privileges when Rustin was hospitalized for a perforated appendix. Rustin died in 1987 before anyone dreamed that the United States would legalize marriage equality.

Sergio Cervetti and Kenneth Rinker, choreographer of Murphy’s Law, also considered adoption when they moved to Pennsylvania from New York City. Issues were health insurance and inheritance tax as well as their wanting to be a couple. Their adoption was vacated after 15 years in the same county where Novak and MacArthur succeeded in having the adoption annulled. Novak and MacArthur were among the witnesses to Cervetti and Rinker’s wedding vows.

faderman

Famous lesbian author and scholar Lillian Faderman (above right) and Phyllis Irwin, chair of the English department at California State University where Faderman was on the faculty, decided on adult adoption after Faderman gave birth to her son, Avrom, in 1975. They completed the legality in 1983 after the fame of Faderman’s book, Surpassing the Love of Men, and she had to travel. If Irwin had not gone through the adoption of her partner, she couldn’t have even taken their son to a doctor. The adoption made Irwin the grandmother of Avrom. At that time, Irwin could not adopt Avrom because no state recognized adoptions of a second, same-gender parent.

Irwin and Faderman got married in June 2008 before the court reversed marriage equality during California’s Proposition 8 debacle. They didn’t vacate the adoption, however, because legal advice told them that undoing the adoption was unnecessary of there was no blood connection. Since then, hey have discovered that their lawyer’s advice was wrong, and they are working to annul the adoption. Faderman said in 2015, “We’ve always felt married. We’ve been married in our hearts for 44 years.”

Trump Watch: New York City has fined Donald Trump $10,000 for violating his agreement to preserve the Trump Tower atrium as public space. Trump has repeatedly closed the atrium and used it for campaign events. He was also fined $10,000 in June for failing to show up for a court hearing, again violating part of the public space agreement with the city.

Photos of full-sized statues of Trump in the nude have popped up all over the internet after the anarchist group INDECLINE put them up in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Seattle. The statue that mysteriously appeared in New York City’s Union Square today is gone with the declaration from NYC Parks that it “stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.” The project is called “The Emperor Has No B—s.” Checking out the gross image shows parts of the “junk” missing and the rest very small.

Ivanka Trump, who is off vacationing with Vladimir Putin’s girlfriend (no, I’m not joking), received this note after she ordered an ear cuff online.

Invanka's note

Trump supporters responded with thousands of threats. At a rally featuring GOP vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, supporters also promised “civil war” no matter who is elected president of the United States in November.

Eighty-one more days.

 

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