Nel's New Day

December 28, 2018

DDT: Week 101 – Watch China’s Growing Influence in Middle East

Day Seven of Government Shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may think that his shutdown isn’t successful because he’s now threatening to close the U.S. southern border and stop aid to several Latin American countries without his wall. Having canceled plans for any holiday vacation to Mar-a-Lago, DDT is sitting in Washington, D.C. with nothing to do except tweet. The U.S. has already announced a collaboration with Mexico, providing $10.6 billion to slow migration from South American countries.

  • The shutdown moves toward more debacles:
  • The possible cancellation of a global weather conference with over 4,000 attendees that wastes research and contracts.
  • Closure of all Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo on January 2.
  • “Furlough” of EPA employees.
  • Lack of payments, farm loans, and disaster assistance for farmers.
  • Suspension of FTC investigations and litigation, including those against Facebook.

Fortunately for Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers are still paying for DDT’s holiday bash, even though he didn’t attend, starting with $54,020 for tents on December 19. Individuals paid DDT’s private business $1,000 per person.

Some startling news has received almost no attention in the Western media amidst the shutdown hubbub. DDT, self-proclaimed great negotiator, planned to scare Pakistan’s military into cooperation by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan. Instead, China is buying Pakistan-built military jets, weaponry, and other hardware, a move that can deepen the two countries’ cooperation in space that China wants to militarize. It can also encourage other countries to buy military equipment from Pakistan instead of the U.S. Only Pakistan has access to China’s satellite navigation system allowing better guidance for missiles, ships, and aircraft. The countries also plan to link a port in coastal Gwadar across 2,000 miles to western China, allowing Chinese goods to have a much shorter and less expensive shipping route and avoid territorial waters of U.S. allies in Asia. China may also militarize Gwadar and other seaports being built in places such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, giving China great geopolitical influence in both commerce and military action.

The first Chinese ship, the cargo ship Zhen Xing Sung, reached Gwadar’s port this week loaded with seafood. Its owner, the China Overseas Shipping Co (Cosco), has a 40-year lease of the port and will export to Central Asia and the Middle East.

DDT became so angry with former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation letter—once the media explained to him what it meant—that he had his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney immediately fire Mattis instead of allowing for a transition period until late February. Mattis’ deputy, Patrick Shanahan, is the temporary replacement until the Senate has time to confirm him. Shanahan worked for the U.S.’s most profitable defense contractors Boeing for thirty years, quitting as senior vice president of supply chain and operations to join the Pentagon. Former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed concern when Shanahan was selected as Deputy Secretary of Defense and said, “I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse.” Shanahan promised to recuse himself from any financial interests related to Boeing.

One reason for Shanahan’s selection as Defense Secretary may be his enthusiasm about DDT’s Space Patrol control outer space, an idea that has been soundly ridiculed. DDT may find Shanahan useful because he has neither military nor foreign policy experience. Shanahan finds the position useful because Boeing has been successful in winning competitive contracts since he joined the Pentagon. The Air Force wants F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed, but the Pentagon is requesting F-15X fighters from Boeing, thanks to Shanahan’s involvement in funding.

DDT is facing not only investigations but also liens against his properties. A third lien, this one from AES Electrical, brings the total to over $5 million against his Washington hotel after the company assigned 45 workers to 12-hour shifts for almost 50 consecutive days to get it open when he wanted. The hotel opened on time, and DDT stopped paying AES. Plumbing firm Joseph J. Magnolia Inc. and Northern Virginia company A&D Construction also filed $2.98 million and $79,700. DDT claims that he’s worth $10 billion, but he has a long-time reputation of stiffing his workers at all levels.

Elected politicians are causing a “collapse in pay for the bottom 90 percent” of the labor market since 1979 by giving power to employers through weakening unions, damaging minimum wage, and prioritizing low inflation over full employment. The bottom 90 percent of wage earners lost $1.53 trillion in income–$10,800 for every U.S. household—in 2015 alone. As a result of these policies, productivity has rapidly slowed since the 1970s, growing half as fast between 1973 and 2017 as it did from 1948 to 1973.

As DDT rails against Jerome Powell, the man he picked as chair of the Federal Reserve, the media is reminding people that he fired the former chair, Janet Yellen, because she is “too short.” Janet L. Yellen was considered the most qualified Federal Reserve chair perhaps ever, but DDT he broke a long-standing bipartisan tradition of retaining the Fed chair if they wanted to stay and were good at the job. Yellen fit both these criteria.

DDT is helping drug companies make more money from opioids by recommending that people with prescription for opioids also get prescriptions for an antidote. The health care costs will run over $1 billion. The recommendation came from DDT-appointed Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir. A two-dose kit of Naloxone nasal spray costs about $125. An automatic injector runs $4,000 per kit.

EPA has approved the Monsanto’s pesticide dicamba, an airborne chemical that can kill crops for miles away. Corn and other grass crops can tolerate the weed killer, but it kills soybeans, tomatoes, and other broadleaf plants. In 2017 and 2018, dicamba damaged almost 5 million acres of soybeans in 24 states, primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois, except for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybeans. Dicamba drift has killed millions of dollars in pecan and peach trees plus destroying bees because they cannot survive on plants damaged from dicamba.

A new proposed EPA rule purports that a little pollution is good for people in order to erase regulations on toxic chemicals. Today, the EPA proposed a reversal of the clean-up of toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired plants. Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities, and other birth defects in children, and the pollutants enter the food chain.

After 17 people were shot and killed in a Parkland (FL) school last spring, DDT put Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in charge of an all-white committee to solve the gun problem. Her first solution was to use federal funds to buy guns for schools, but she moved back from that move because of the backlash. In her next step, she admitted to Congress that her commission on gun violence would not study the role of guns in school shootings. Ten months after the tragedy, DeVos will use the “school safety commission” to discriminate against blacks and other minority students, permitting schools to use race in punishing them because of her claim that are the cause for an increase in school violence. The racial difference is already dire: black girls are suspended six times more than white girls, and black boys are suspended three times more than white boys. The commission was created because of killing by a white teenager, and most mass shootings at schools are by white males.

Almost 40,000 people died in shootings across the United States in 2017 during DDT’s first year after his inauguration, the highest number in 20 years. The U.S. now has 12 deaths per 100,000 people from guns compared to 0.2 per 100,000 people in Japan, 0.3 in the UK and 0.9 in Germany.

Last week, a second Guatemalan child died on Christmas Eve in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and DHS Secretary clings to her story that parents are at fault. Yet on December 23 to 25, ICE officials dumped 600 hundred asylum seekers in the cold outside a Greyhound bus terminal in El Paso where they had no housing or food and local shelters were not warned. Many of them were ill. The only other time that this has occurred was the week before the 2018 midterm elections.

Gallup poll’s most admired man for 2018 is Barack Obama, and the winning women is Michelle Obama. Barack tops the list for the 11th year in a row, one place short of tying Dwight Eisenhower for the record. Michelle has broken Hillary Clinton’s 17 year run. DDT came in second to Barack, and Melania Trump is fourth after Oprah Winfrey and Clinton.

Katherine Walker, the TV producer who oversaw the first five seasons of The Apprentice, said that workers “struggled to make Trump seem coherent.” She added that he frequently commented on women’s bodies in a derogatory fashion. Walker believes—like many of us—that DDT would not have been elected president if not for that show. A piece in the New Yorker describes how Mark Burnett, former executive producer of the show, gave DDT the appearance of a tycoon. Voters bought the image, not the real person.

December 21, 2018

DDT: Week 100 – Government Shutdown, Middle East Chaos

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:08 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is holding nine government agencies hostage to get his steel slats, DDT’s new name for his border wall.

  • Over 420,000 federal employees will continue to work without paychecks—41,00 in the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and other law enforcement and correctional officers.
  • Almost 90 percent of DHS employees working without a paycheck includes 53,000 Transportation Security Administration employees, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, and 54,000 employees from Customs and Border Protection.
  • Other unpaid employees are 5,000 Forest Service firefighters and 3,600 National Weather Service forecasters.
  • Another 380,000 federal workers who also lose their paychecks and not allowed to work include over 44,000 employees from the Forest and National Park Services, 52,000 IRS staff, and 7,100 Housing and Urban Development workers, and 18,300 Transportation Department employees. Robert Mueller’s investigation continues.
  • Departments shut down are Treasury, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Commerce, and Justice.
  • Services lost include income tax returns, availability of national parks and zoo, loan processing for housing, trade appropriations, paychecks for active-duty military members, WIC funds feeding low-income pregnant women and new mothers with their children up to five years old, with healthy food, detection and investigation of disease breakouts, and appeals for VA disability benefits.
  • Other losers are janitors, security guards, and other low-wage federal contractors who live paycheck from paycheck. Subsidized grocery stores for military families are closing.

DDT is in his third shutdown in 100 weeks, but the others were short. He is promising that this one will last a “long time.” The 17-day government shutdown in October 2013, the longest in U.S. history except for Bill Clinton’s 21 days over Christmas in 1996, cost $2 billion in just “lost productivity of furloughed workers.” A shutdown when one party controlled the government—both legislative and executive—hasn’t happened for over 40 years.

During the past few days, DDT has led everyone on a roller coaster with shutdown talk.  Without retiring senators, DDT might have gotten through a 60-day CR for the budget that included his steel slats. In a meeting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), DDT said he was “proud” to cause a shutdown. That temper tantrum was followed by his claim that he would sign a short-term continuing resolution without funding for the wall. Congress took him at his word and passed the bill that he offered. At that point, he refused to sign the CR because it didn’t include $5 billion for a wall because the Fox network and other far-right pundits said he should demand the wall.

Members of Congress had already gone home and were forced to return for votes. Rep. Brian Schatz (D-HI) spent 17 minutes with his family before he had to go back to Washington, almost 5,000 miles away from his home, for a vote. The House caved and passed another CR with $5.7 billion for the wall, but the Senate needs 60 votes to move any bill forward. It managed 47 votes for a tie in a bill with the funding that VP Mike Pence broke. Tonight the shutdown began, and DDT is sitting by himself in the White House waiting for his direction from Fox and Rush Limbaugh. Congress may—or may not—return tomorrow to address the problem, depending on whether their work could bear fruit—or steel slats. DDT has decided to blame Democrats for the shutdown, but he is on record as saying that he “owns” the shutdown.

In ten days, the House will have the same majority of Democrats that the House enjoys now. They are less likely to pass a bill funding steel slats, and DDT has always guaranteed that Mexico, not U.S. taxpayers, will pay for a wall. From DDT came this tweet: [visual]

“A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful!”

While the government was responsible for averting a shutdown today, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid, held an emergency House meeting on the Senate “Curd Act” to define natural cheese. Amid all the following disastrous events of the past week—plus the government shutdown, Sessions considered the definition of “natural cheese” to be an emergency. Sessions lost to a black civil rights lawyer by six points after he was in Congress for 22 years.

For the first time in the history of the United States, a Defense Secretary has resigned to protest the actions of the man in the Oval Office. DDT’s intemperate decision to remove all the U.S. military from Syria appeared to be the last straw for James “Mad Dog” Mattis who went to the Oval Office seeking reason from the U.S. “leader.” According to DDT’s tweets, Mattis will be gone in two months. During his career in the Cabinet, James Mattis stopped a U.S. strike on North Korea, tried to preserve relationships with allies, stalled the proposed military parade, sided with keeping transgender military members, and worked, although failing, to keep the Iran deal, according to David Graham.

Mattis’ action came after DDT pulled all 2,200 military members out of Syria despite disagreement from his aides and secretaries of Defense and State as well as no plan. These officials were unable to convince DDT that the Kurd-dominated ground fighters trained and equipped by the U.S. are vital after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called them terrorists and threatened to attack them. Erdogan talked with DDT at the G20 Summit and again last Friday. Turkey has purchased Patriot missile defense batteries from the United States, indicating that DDT may operate on a purely commercial basis. DDT announced his decision on Twitter without telling anyone about the withdrawal except Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—not even congressional leaders. Even staunch DDT supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the move a “huge mistake.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), said that DDT’s generals “believe the high-fiving winners today are Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah.”

DDT falsely claimed the ISIS is defeated in Syria although senior officials concluded that this defeat could be months away with thousands of ISIS militants underground in Syria. The Pentagon estimates 17,100 ISIS in Syria and another 13,000 in Iraq, the same as in 2014. In 2016, DDT blamed President Obama as “founder of ISIS” because he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq.

Turkey and Russia are both pleased with Putin’s move because they both support Syria’s Assad government and oppose the Kurds who are fighting ISIS. DDT lied in his tweet about Russia being “unhappy” about the withdrawal, and Russian officials corrected him, saying that it was a good idea. “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving,” said Russian columnist and foreign affairs analyst.

Iran is also delighted because DDT’s troop withdrawal opens a path for Iran to defeat Israel.  Netanyahu tried to put on a happy face, merely saying that Israel will escalate its fight against Iran.

White supremacists in the United States are also ecstatic about DDT’s removal of troops from Syria because they look on its president, Bashar al-Assad as a hero with the far-right white supremacists in the United States.

DDT’s 30-day timeline for withdrawing the military troops, equipment, and heavy weapons may be impossible. The Pentagon wonders whether to retake thousands of weapons distributed to Syrian ground forces and the equipment over a half-dozen military bases. The latter may be destroyed in place. And a serious question is what to do with Kurdish fighters and the 79-nation international coalition to erase ISIS. With cells throughout the world, ISIS routinely initiates attacks throughout Syria. NGO’s supporting U.S. agencies bringing water and sanitation back to the ruined town of Raqqa were ordered to immediately leave.

Pulling troops out of Syria doesn’t mean that DDT will stop killing civilians there. He is leaving the air power and may increase strikes after U.S. troops are gone. DDT is also strengthening Iran because they support Turkey in opposing the Kurds.

Although DDT didn’t tweet his orders, he plans to pull 7,000 military members out of Afghanistan, about half the number stationed there. The Taliban will most likely be satisfied with the pullout, but Israel is concerned that the U.S. will leave Iraq next.

Even Brian Kilmeade on Fox & Friends opposes DDT’s action, calling the pullout a “stunning and irresponsible” move. Ed Henry protested. DDT is sticking to the advice of Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham to pull out troops and shut down the government.

DDT’s creation of chaos by pulling troops out of the Middle East and causing a government shutdown provides his latest diversion from the multiple investigations of him, his campaign, and his associates. And “acting” Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney flunked his first task of handling Congress.

And much more to report about this week’s disasters–tomorrow.

December 21, 2016

Trump’s Warrior-General Coup

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:00 PM
Tags: , , ,

 

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) made an apt description of Donald Trump’s (DT) cabinet selections when she said he has “a three ‘G’ Cabinet,” filled with “Goldman, generals, and gazillionaires.” The United States was founded on a principle of civilian control over military might, but DT has decided to select hawks for “civilian” advisors. Third-world countries come to mind.

The National Security Act of 1947 requires that the secretary of defense be appointed “from civilian life” by the president. The law mandates a grace period of ten years before an active duty officer can hold the post  although Congress reduced the time to seven years in 2008. Yet DT is attempting to surround himself with uniforms and medals.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04:  Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee February 4, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to examine threats to the U.S. from all around the world.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will be DT’s National Security Adviser because this position does not require confirmation. Even the conservative Accuracy in Media disapproves of Flynn because of his close connections to the Russians—working for their propaganda machine and being paid for speaking at a gala dinner for the state-owned media company where he sat next to Vladimir Putin. In that speech he lauded the calls to lock up DT’s opponent in jail and demanded that “Crooked Hillary Clinton” drop out of the campaign. While Flynn accompanied DT to classified briefings, his personal firm was lobbying for foreign interests. To Flynn, all Muslims are evil, and police brutality is good.

During DT’s campaign, Flynn interacted with white supremacists, shared fake news stories, and pushed Islamphobia, calling the religion of 1.6 billion people “a cancer.” He also called the Muslim world an “epic failure” compared to “the superiority of the West.” He tweeted a false story claiming that NYPD found information on Anthony Weiner’s laptop that would ” put Hillary (Clinton) and her crew away for life.” Before that, he linked a tweet to one lying about Clinton “wearing hijab in solidarity with islamic terrorists,” using a 2009 photo of Clinton respectfully wearing the head covering in a visit to a mosque. Another link purported that an Iranian scientist may have been executed because he was exposed to Clinton’s email server.

Last August, Flynn claimed to have seen photos of Arabic signs along the U.S./Mexico border to guide potential state-sponsored terrorists and “radicalized Muslims” into the United States. No one else has seen these signs. Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., was removed from DT’s transition team after tweeting his continued support of the “fake news” conspiracy theory that led a North Carolina man shooting in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria because Flynn and others accused the place of being a child trafficking front for Clinton, leading a man coming from North Carolina to shoot a gun at patrons in a misguided attempt to rescue the children.

Flynn “inappropriately shared” classified information with foreign military officers in 2010, but the case against him was dismissed as insignificant. Former U.S. officials said that he was accused of telling Pakistani officials what other agencies, including the CIA, were doing in Afghanistan. He claimed that he had permission, but Army documents state that he did not. Flynn was a leader of the “lock her up” movement against Hillary Clinton for mishandling sensitive information.

In 2014, Flynn was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. While he was at the Pentagon, his employees described his similarity to Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny and referred to his assertions with no factual basis “Flynn facts.”

Flynn suffers from several conflicts of interest. His business, started after he was fired from the government, has ties to the Turkish government, helpful to Flynn when he sat in on DT’s classified briefings. He was re-elected to a paid position on the board of a surveillance drone company that has Department of Defense contracts, a company that came from a business represented by Donald Trump, Jr. until 2014. Flynn’s company employs senior executives whose firms have federal contracts.

Flynn is rapidly losing his support for the position. For example, former Gen. Barry McCaffrey initially endorsed Flynn for the position, but that was before he learned more about Flynn’s statements on social media. McCaffrey said that Flynn’s tweets “border on being demented.” He called on people to “aggressively examine what was going on with Gen. Flynn and his son.”

Lacking the need to be confirmed, Flynn continues his white supremacist activities. Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of a far-right Austrian political party founded by ex-Nazis, met with Flynn at Trump Tower earlier this month. Strache claimed that his “Freedom Party continues to gain in influence,” but his candidate for president of Austria lost the run-off this month. The party did sign a “cooperation agreement” with Vladimir Putin’s Russian political party, laying out a five-year plan for regular meetings and joint projects.

If you’re not already terrified by Michael Flynn in this position, read this analysis by Jonathan Chait. And remember that DT is getting his “intelligence” briefings from Flynn instead of professionals in the federal government.

Flynn’s chief of staff, Army retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, served as chief operations officer for the mismanaged U.S. military occupation of Iraq after Baghdad fell in 2003. Like his colleagues, he made a fortune from connections with defense-related industries after he left the military.

President-elect Donald Trump talks to media as he stands with retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, right, at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Flynn will get hawkish company from John Kelly, a retired Marine nominated to head the civilian agency Department of Security. While overseeing Guantanamo Bay, he rigorously defended mass torture and and said that they are all “bad boys.” He doesn’t care that the majority of these “bad boys” have been unanimously cleared for release by all relevant government agencies.

In 2014, human rights organizations criticized Kelly for using allocations to reduce inequality in Central America for his militarization, violence, and displacement. Kelly now calls on escalating the domestic “war on drugs,” claiming that the growing legalization of marijuana in the United States threatens U.S. foreign policy objectives in Latin America. After he received the nomination, he said that the people voted to “put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security.” One of the largest jailers in the U.S. government, the DHS oversees “efforts to counter terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage our borders while facilitating trade and travel, enforce and administer our immigration laws, safeguard and secure cyberspace, build resilience to disasters, and provide essential support for national and economic security—in coordination with federal, state, local, international and private sector partners.” Kelly opposed opening combat positions to qualified servicewomen because, according to Kelly, it leads to lower standards.

Kelly’s deputy almost matches Michael Flynn in looniness.  K.R. McFarland got this job by making friends with Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. at the Fox network. DT had already seen her on TV. She likes torture and agrees with Kelly that failing to profile Muslims is “political correctness.” McFarland’s 2011 telephone conversation with Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan suggests collusion between the Fox network and the general, including a message from Roger Ailes that he and Rupert Murdoch wanted Petraeus to run for president. (Petraeus, convicted of giving out classified information, was considered for DT’s Secretary of State.)

As a GOP primary candidate for Hillary Clinton’s seat in 2006, McFarland claimed that Clinton’s fear of her drove the successful senator to keep her under surveillance by flying helicopters over McFarland’s house. She said that if voters don’t “throw the bums out,” people “can all start learning Chinese.” (Considering her boss’s closeness to Russia, she may have merely cited the wrong language. She is convinced that Clinton is responsible for the deaths at Benghazi. Her new job requires skill at analysis and synthesis of information without prejudice or bias.

james-mattisJames Mattis, nominee for the Secretary of Defense, sounds downright reasonable because he’s isn’t crazy. Yet he came by his nickname, “Mad Dog,” honestly. He lost his position as head of U.S. Central Command because of his hawkish stance toward Iran. The removal led to his forced retirement in 2013. Mattis has also been accused of war crimes for the aggressive tactics he oversaw in Iraq as commanding general of the 1st Marine Division during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. DT, fond of  Mattis’ “Mad Dog” nickname, said that the retired general is “the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have,” probably because he thinks they look alike. Looks are all important to DT.

DT’s picks, all losing generals, direct the nation back into the era of the medieval Crusades as perfect Christians declare war to eliminate the evil Muslims. Noam Chomsky said it best: Trump’s position is “vulgar imperialism masked by a fraudulent concern for the working people and the middle class.” The entire interview is well worth reading.

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