Nel's New Day

May 24, 2020

Week 174 – Some Good News, Voting Squabbles

A federal judge overturned a new Florida law requiring felons to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote, as permitted by an initiative passed in 2018 by 65 percent of the voters. The constitutional amendment expanded voting rights for those who completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.” Judge Robert L. Hinkle compared the state law to a tax, unconstitutionally illegal.

In addition to using security agents as servants, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had them pack household goods and move his mother-in-law into a retirement home. Pompeo also ordered state Department officials to fabricate a justification for the emergency authorization to force an $8 billion arms deal without congressional approval and then hide it. To keep from firing Pompeo, DDT is trying to persuade him to run for Kansas senator. June 1 is the deadline for filing for candidacy.

Rachel Maddow is off the hook, at least temporarily, for a $10 million defamation lawsuit by One America News Network (OANN) after she said a writer for the right-leaning channel publishes the same material for Russia’s state propaganda network. On July 22, 2019, Maddow cited a Daily Beast article on her show, saying it reported OANN “has a full-time on-air reporter who covers U.S. politics, who is also simultaneously on the payroll of the Kremlin.” Maddow added, “The most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” OANN plans to appeal the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Two Democratic FCC commissioners claim a $48 million fine with no admission of guilt for Sinclair is insufficient punishment for the conservative network’s violations of regulations and asked for harsher punishments and greater scrutiny into whether Sinclair should be allowed to own any television stations.  Sinclair lied for an FCC review in its attempt to buy Tribune Media, causing the merger to collapse; didn’t report its providing accounting services to TV stations it didn’t own to the FCC; and aired sponsored programming 1,723 times without telling viewers the content was paid by a hospital group and not news.

The EPA admitted ignoring serious problems with rolling back the regulation to reduce automobile pollution through mileage standards. The agency had not seen about two-thirds of the 1,000-page document that Transportation Department staffers gave the White House as justification for the changes, and the top EPA official said that the Transportation had not addressed over 250 comments from EPA experts. Documents about objections from EPA staff may create legal problems for the rule mandating an improvement of average fuel efficiency because of the rules that the EPA broke. In the margins of the new regulation, agency staff wrote:

“The action revising the [greenhouse gas] standards will result in increased climate impacts and air pollution emissions compared to the existing standards.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) wrote that the EPA failed to enter document into the public record, changed the rule after it was signed, and didn’t follow it obligation to write part of the mileage rule:

“The result is a policy that fails to protect public health, fails to save money, fails to result in safer vehicles and will, ultimately and undoubtedly, fail in court.”

Even without protection from DDT’s EPA, scientists say that the worldwide drop in carbon emissions from coronavirus shutdowns could be the largest in recorded history. The 17-percent decrease from the same month last year is the same as emission levels in 2006, according to an analysis of the 69 countries responsible for 97 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Forty-three percent of the decrease came from reduced surface transportation.

DDT is launching the latest phase of his pre-election smear campaign against Democrats, and faithful loyalist Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee, wants to help him. He declassified an email former White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote herself as a reminder immediately before DDT’s inauguration about a discussion with President Obama and his team concerning Michael Flynn. Rice’s email states:

“[President Obama] stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

Rice – 1; Johnson – 0. And Flynn – 0. 

Rice called on DDT to release the transcripts of phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador during the transition while Barack Obama was president. Flynn pled guilty—twice—to his private conversations with a foreign country with the goal of undermining his own country’s foreign policy. No release is impending.

Watching judicial decisions regarding Texas absentee voting is like watching a ping-pong game. The state’s AG, Ken Paxton, has fought to keep from expanding the extremely narrow parameters for absentee voters, even if people are in danger of being infected and dying from COVID-19. With no evidence, his excuse is “fraud.” The latest ruling from a Texas federal judge permits absentee ballots for voters afraid of catching the virus, applying the law to all registered voters who “lack immunity from Covid-19 and fear infection at polling places.” This ruling supersedes the decision from the state Supreme Court stopping five counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The next Texas election is July 14, and July 2 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. Paxton filed an appeal.

COVID-19 caused almost 30 states to change rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general election, affecting roughly 86.6 million registered voters and more than 40 million people who now have the temporary right to cast an absentee ballot. Over a dozen states postponed primaries because of the virus, and 11 states requiring an excuse to vote by mail may use the virus for a reason. Another 12 states and the District of Columbia are proactively sending absentee ballot applications or request forms to voters specifically because of the coronavirus. Roughly 34.7 million people will receive the forms. Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey sending absentee ballots for the primaries to approximately 11.3 million voters joined five other states that already mailed ballots to voters. In the 34 states that already do not require an excuse to vote absentee or by mail, the number of requests have shot up by ten times over 2016. Before the onset of the virus, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah already conduct elections by mail. Only Kentucky made voting more onerous by requiring government-issued photo IDs. ID-issuing offices are closed in the state.

With no evidence, DDT told reporters that mail-in ballots lead to “forgeries” and “thousands and thousands of fake ballots.” He added a diatribe about people printing “fraudulent ballots” and said “a lot of things can happen.” “To really vote, and without fraud, you have to go and you have to vote at the polling place,”  said DDT, the man who voted by mail from an address that Florida says he can’t have as a legal residential address. Previously, he said that Republicans need to block mail-in ballots to keep electing Republicans. DDT’s family also votes by mail.

DDT is so desperate to keep blue states from voting by mail that he threatened to block funding to Michigan and Nevada because he was under the impression that the states were mailing ballots. In fact, the states mailed applications for absentee ballots. GOP-led states such as Nebraska, West Virginia and Georgia made similar plans to offer applications for absentee ballots, but DDT has no comments about these red states. Interference with elections is unconstitutional.

Colorado, the third state after Washington and Oregon to legislate complete vote by mail, found the practice popular and relatively free of fraud—only 0.0027 percent out of 2.5 million ballots. In 2018, the state had the second highest turnout rate in the country after a 9.4 percent increase among registered voters. In April, 79 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans supported mail-in ballots for 2020. Yet the RNC and DDT’s re-election campaign are paying $20 million to fight voting changes in battleground states. Many Colorado Republicans advocate mail voting, and supporters say it’s safe because of paper ballots, signature verifications, a risk-limiting audit, and voter list checks make it safe. Research shows that neither party benefited from the mail-in system.

Vote by mail is also safer health wise. Wisconsin’s in-person primaries on April 7, mandated by the state Supreme Court and the GOP legislators, led to a “large” spread of coronavirus, according to a study.  

DDT may think that he can postpone the November election, mandated by the U.S. Constitution. About postponement, DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.” Backlash forced Kushner to backtrack to the media: 

“I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”   [photo – Kushner]

A  federal judge allowed a federal lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and his company of collaboration with a fraudulent marketing scheme to prey on investors. The case involves an exchange of “secret” payments for use of DDT’s former reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice and other promotional events to boost ACN Opportunity, a telecommunications marketing company linked to a nonprofit that used Trump’s brand to appeal to teens. According to the lawsuit, the Trumps profited off the poor and vulnerable by “systematically defrauding economically marginalized people.”

May 24: COVID-19 deaths are 99,300—just 700 short of 100,000.

May 17, 2020

DDT: Week 173 – The Friday Night Dump—and More

In the past, the notorious news release on late Friday night has been with the hope that it will fade by Monday when people pay attention. That theory has disappeared with the prevalence of internet users and the growing fixation of media watching. Yet Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his purge on Friday, last night the retaliatory firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick, the third Friday move in three weeks to dump people who alienated DDT. Linick’s sins:

  • July 1, 2019: Investigating the use of tax-payer Diplomatic Security agents to run personal errands such as picking up takeout food by State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo and his wife. (Agents called themselves “UberEats with guns.”
  • August 2019: Issued a report alleging State Department leaders mistreated and harassed staffers, accusing them of disloyalty to DDT.
  • October 2, 2019: Gave documents about Ukraine disinformation to the House’s impeachment inquiry into DDT that personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave the State Department
  • November 14, 2019: Released a finding that DDT’s high-ranking political appointees retaliated against  career civil servant while Rex Tillerson was Secretary of State. 

DDT’s real reason, however, may have come after House COVID-19 legislation provides the inspector general would have oversight for funding in the bill passed yesterday. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) tweeted how the firing was shameful:

“Another late Friday night attack on independence, accountability, and career officials. At this point, the President’s paralyzing fear of any oversight is undeniable.”

DDT’s replacement, director of the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions Steve Akard, withdrew his nomination in 2017 to become director general of the Foreign Service because of opposition. Akard, a former Mike Pence underling in Indiana when the VP was governor, was rejected because of lack of experience and a political appointee. The appointment of Akard bypasses Linick’s deputy, Diana Shaw. 

On Friday, May 1, Acting HHS IG Christi Grimm was fired after 8:00 pm; on Friday, April 3, Intelligence IG Michael Atkinson was fired at 10:00 pm. Acting Defense Department IG Glenn Fine went on April 7. The person in that position oversees DDT’s handling of $2.3 trillion in the “stimulus package.”

In a problem for DDT, Michael Pack, nominee to lead the Agency for Global Media overseeing the Voice of America and other news outlets, is being investigated for unlawful use of $1.6 million from his nonprofit, Public Media Lab, that were sent to his independent production company, Manifold Productions. Pack refused to send requested documents to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for almost eight months, and his vote before a panel for his confirmation last Thursday was postponed. The D.C. attorney general’s office has been asked to look into the allegation. DDT has threatened to adjourn Congress so that he can make any appointments he wants without confirmation. He also accused the Voice of America of promoting Chinese propaganda for its independent reporting. VP Mike Pence also threatened a Voice of America reporter with retaliation for disclosing that Pence was told his needed to wear a mask to visit the Mayo Clinic last month. The truth was especially embarrassing for Pence because his wife, Karen Pence, claimed that her husband didn’t know about the mask policy what was posted on the walls.

DDT can fire anyone he wants in the executive branch, but he doesn’t have the same rights in Congress. To purge someone, therefore, he needs to run a smear campaign against him—like he did against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) with the help of his fixit AG Bill Barr. Thanks to the DOJ, the FBI raided Burr’s house and took his cell phone in an insider trading case. Burr has been removed from his chairmanship of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence which just happens to be investigating the connection between the Russian influence on the 2016 election and DDT. The committee has one more segment of their report to release.

Burr’s sell-off of his stock may be hinky, but he isn’t alone in the behavior. Other senators—Diane Feinstein (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)—took the same action. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), brother of DDT’s Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, made millions by selling stock options just before the market crash this spring and then buying them back. After Perdue received classified information about COVID-19, he sold his casino shares before the market crash and bought Pfizer (drugs) and DuPont (medical supplies). Burr is just alone in being investigated.

Before Burr stepped down, he asked DDT to quickly declassify the last of five parts of their Russian investigation, a bipartisan effort. The executive branch determines what is declassified, and the finale to the committee’s work may never see the light of day. With the top Democratic senator on the Intelligence committee, Virginia’s Mark Warner, Burr issued a statement that they would release an unclassified version on the Senate floor even if there is no declassification. Lawmakers cannot be prosecuted for what they say as part of the legislative process. An Alaska senator entered 4,000 pages of the classified Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record. The first four parts of Burr’s committee were on U.S. election security, Russia’s use of social media, the Obama administration response to the interference, and the January 2017 Intelligence Committee Assessment validating the intelligence analysis describing Russia interference include efforts to help DDT win the election as accurate, thorough, and untainted by political bias.   

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow wants to cut in half the taxes for corporations, already slashed by 40 percent to only 21 percent, if they bring their operations back to the U.S. Other perks would be liability protection and a payroll tax cut for returning businesses, taking money from Social Security and Medicare.

The Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, warned of an “extended period” of weak economic growth, promised to use the U.S. central bank’s power, and asked for more spending to help the economy. Interest rates were almost zero before the virus epidemic because of DDT’s insistence, and the lending to companies and first-ever corporate bond purchases have set precedents. At this time, Powell promised the interest rates wouldn’t go into the negative zone below zero.

DDT keeps trying to persuade investors that the downturn in the stock market will shoot up any day now and makes other promises such as a vaccine by the end of the year. Small investors may not worry about the market’s volatility despite its falling three days during the past week, but they should. Those who think that the markets will follow a “V” shape, bounding right back, should note that stock prices starting to fall in September 2007 during the Great Recession didn’t bottom out for 17 months and the fall during the Great Depression from October 1929 until the middle of 1932 dropped the market 80 percent. Stocks didn’t come back until the mid-1950s. The market would give a bounce and then drop again.

While Republicans demonize China to distract people from DDT’s COVID-19 failure, Cabinet members, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are making money off their relationships with the country. Others with personal business interests are Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) wife, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (brother of Georgia’s senator discussed above).

According to a newly released transcript, DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner “misled” Congress about his friend who provided a backchannel to Russia. The House hearing in 2017, run by Republicans, failed to elicit the information that Rick Gerson acted as a Kushner operative who also worked for the UAE and secretly met with a Russian hedge fund manager in the Seychelles.

DDT is desperately looking for photo ops and campaign rallies outside the White House, but a Pennsylvania factory manufacturing PPE canceled “a presidential visit” because of health reasons. Masks are a big issue with DDT who never wears one, and Pence rarely does. On a visit to an Alexandria nursing home, he stood closely to staff with no protective gear, accompanied by his press secretary Katie Miller who tested positive for COVID-19 the next day. She also didn’t wear a mask. DDT found another PPE factory in Pennsylvania to visit—still no mask

Almost a week ago, the public learned that three White House aides—one each for DDT, Pence, and Ivanka Trump—tested positive for COVID-19 as well as 11 Secret Service agents. Since then there have been no new reports of confirmed cases, but DDT was so furious at the earlier revelations that staff may be hiding any new cases.

At the unveiling of his new space force flag, DDT, looking happier than he has for months, bragged about the military developing a new “super duper” missile traveling 17 times faster than anything the U.S. has. Either the Pentagon doesn’t know anything about the missile, or it doesn’t want to talk about it. Defense Secretary Mark Esper didn’t elaborate when asked for specifics.

While DDT ignores COVID-19, the number of confirmed cases went above 1.5 million and the deaths are over 90,000—headed for over 100,000 by the end of the month.

April 19, 2020

DDT, the COVID-19 Mob Boss

To evangelical Christians: Your god, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), not only lies, cheats, and sexually assaults women, but he also steals.

Most states suffer from a serious lack of supplies, and DDT, the pandemic patron, runs the United States like a mob boss. At every campaign rally, he proclaims his generosity and the Democrats’ ingratitude: his Army Corps of Engineers building hospitals, his hospital ship moored outside New York for more patients, his money with his name being sent to people. Historian Jon Meacham said:

“Trump has cast himself in the role of generous monarch who is saying, ‘I have given you this, dear subjects’—and it’s a remarkably selfish and self-referential performance.”

Earlier in the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. took supplies from the states by underbidding them. Now he confiscates supplies ordered by states and then whines his false claim that President Obama left him without any supplies—over three years ago. State and health leaders in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Kentucky, Texas, and Florida have openly accused the federal government of intercepting and diverting their equipment orders without reasons.

  • Massachusetts ordered three million respirator N95 masks that federal agents confiscated at the port of New York.
  • Another 35,000 N95 masks ordered by New Jersey were commandeered by the federal government.
  • After 20,000 tests were purchased from a Chinese manufacturer and delivered to a Laredo (TX) emergency room, health workers discovered they were antibody tests to see if the subject had encountered the virus and not diagnostic tests for active infection. Within a week, six people died in the city, and federal investigators seized the tests after a Democrat lawmaker serving the area worked to get approval from the FDA and U.S. Customs and paid $500,000 for the tests.
  • Last month, federal agents seized 200 COVID-19 tests on their way to Portland (OR) for home use.
  • In California, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) believed it had found 39 million masks to donate to health care workers, but the FBI discovered the deal was a scam—because the federal government planned to confiscate the masks.
  • DDT bragged about sending 100 ventilators to Colorado from “his stockpile” after he ordered the company to cancel the state’s order of 500 ventilators. He gave GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, facing a difficult re-election, the credit after refusing to comply with requests from the Democratic governor and a Democratic representative.  

DDT also takes supplies from countries. In Bangkok, the U.S. federal government took 200,000 N95 masks headed for Germany. The U.S. bought masks headed for France from China at three to four times the going price. The U.S. federal government seized 20 ventilators ordered by Barbados.  Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s interior minister, called these events acts of “modern-day piracy.”  

Of the confiscated supplies, about half go to hot spots where DDT likes the governor, and the other half goes to the commercial market.

“Empty shelves,” that’s all DDT says. That’s before he says that states are totally responsible for obtaining their own supplies, that whatever DDT gets from confiscated state orders belongs to a federal stockpile that states cannot access. About the stockpile, a HHS website described the stockpile as “the nation’s largest supply of lifesaving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out” and available to states and localities requesting them. That language disappeared after Jared Kushner’s claim of “our stockpile.”

The supply chain task force, a subcommittee of the coronavirus task force, should be helping the federal government obtain desperately-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and shields, along with life-saving medical equipment like ventilators, at a lower cost, and distributing it to the areas that need it the most. Kushner’s “federal” supply chain task force has no accountability and operates in the dark, releasing almost nothing about arrangements with big companies. Its corruption, including a delay of weeks, has killed thousands of people.

Almost three weeks ago, DDT bragged about “Project Airbridge,” using help from private companies to get supplies for his stockpile. Here’s how it works. The supply chain task force spent $1 million on each of 40 chartered FedEx flights in a deal for chemical giant DuPont to send Tyvek material, made in the U.S., to Vietnam where it becomes body suits. The federal government pays $15 each for $5 suits in addition to the $40 million for the flights. Military aircraft would have cost less than half, $410,000 per flight. DuPont sold only 60 percent of the suits to the government.  And DDT announced the deal as a success in bringing medical equipment to the U.S. The project has turned out to be a scam for these companies to price-gouge.

The government is also paying four times the price for ventilators from a Dutch company that received millions in tax dollars to develop an affordable one for pandemics.

DDT’s maintains this control for revenge and appreciation. Be nice to me, DDT says, and you might get some of what you need. Criticism of him, however, leads to no supplies for the states and more deaths their residents. His quid pro quo during the health crisis matches his threats for the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. DDT did the same thing when he tried to get exclusive access to a possible COVID-19 vaccine from a German company.

A few weeks ago, DDT constantly smeared 3M when the corporation sent 10 million N95 masks from its manufacturing plant in Singapore to Asian markets after DDT insisted that they be added to his personal stockpile. DDT also demanded that 3m “cease exporting respirators to Canada and Latin America; he cares nothing about 3M’s legal and humanitarian reasons. He finally deployed the Defense Protection Act to force 3m to comply because “we need the masks, we don’t want other people getting them.” DDT described using the DPA as “retaliation.”

In mid-March, the U.S. discouraged people from wearing masks, telling them that healthy people didn’t need them and protective gear should be saved for front-line medical workers. Yet two weeks before he reversed this guideline, DDT took 3,600 masks from a donated Taiwan shipment of surgical masks for healthcare workers to keep for the White House staff. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told people they faced low risk of infection but wearing masks would increase their risk and were “NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #Coronavirus.” Taiwan, where people mostly wore face coverings in public, has one of the lowest rates of confirmed cases and deaths in the world.

States are fighting back. Minnesota used a local company’s global connections to airlift N95 masks from a Chinese factory. Washington bought 750,000 test swabs hoping that the unapproved product will get through and bet that an outdoor gear company can refigure backpack and parka manufacturing to N95 respirators. Twice, Illinois staff physically drove seven-figure checks from their Springfield office to meet vendors. One of them was an official who took a check for $3.2 million to a handoff at a McDonald’s Parking lot for a bank deadline. Individual masks that used to go for 50 cents now cost as much as $13. Some states consider using local law enforcement and/or the National Guard to meet chartered FedEx planes with millions of masks from China, but they stay anonymous to keep DDT from taking their shipments.

Illinois J.B. Pritzker flew millions of masks and gloves to the U.S. from China on secret chartered flights to keep the federal government from taking supplies that he ordered. DDT had told Pritzker that he had to get his own supplies. Pritzker complied, and DDT complained. 

As DDT commandeers supplies ordered by states, FEMA isn’t publicly reporting their acquisitions, paid for with taxpayer dollars, and the federal government doesn’t reveal what supplies it seizes and where they are rerouted.   FEMA ‘s failure in providing supplies to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is being replicated throughout the current health crisis.

This is his scam. If governors succeed in re-opening the states from the COVID-19 crisis, DDT takes credit. If governors fail because the confirmed cases and deaths from the virus spike, DDT blames the governors. DDT calls himself a “wartime” president. And like the American Revolution and Civil War, soldiers are told to go out and find their own gear, supplies, and weapons. Even worse, DDT steals these from the fighters.

On April 19, the U.S. has 764,265 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 40,565 deaths–and DDT wants to open the country in less than two weeks. Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!

April 3, 2020

Incompetence Kills

People said they voted for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) because he claimed to be an expert businessman. Now his incompetence is killing and sickening hundreds of thousands of people in the country. Republican legislators were told about DDT’s stupidity and cupidity, but they stuck with him. Pro-DDT people cling to every lie that he tells. Yesterday, the world passed the one million number mark of confirmed COVID-19 cases with almost 28 percent of these in the United States. Today, April 3 over 1,000 deaths in the U.S. brought the total up to 7,392 since the first death on February 26, 2020—only 37 days ago. The mortality rate thus far is 2.5 percent, and many confirmed and deaths aren’t reported in the United States. [Daily deaths until April 1.]

These are some reasons for many of the deaths from COVID-19 in the United States:

Photo by Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock 

DDT put his son-in-law Jared Kushner “in charge” of the health crisis. At today’s White House campaign rally, Kushner announced that the supplies and equipment purchased by the federal government is “our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.” DDT blamed states for a lack of preparedness:

“Long before this pandemic arrived, they should have been on the open market just buying.”

The federal government now buys these supplies and sells them to the highest bidder, including foreign governments if they outbid states. Today, asked about the definition of “our stockpile,” DDT sneered at the reporter for what he considered her stupidity and finally said that the government was saving the supplies for a real crisis.

Kushner’s bidding system has produced enormous markups for vital supplies in New York: 20 cents for gloves usually costing less than a nickel; as much as $7.50 each for masks, a markup of 15 times; up to $2,795 for infusion pumps, over twice the regular rate, and $248,841 for a portable X-ray machine that typically sells for $30,000 to $80,000. And these are the prices if the state can buy them. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that sometimes the order doesn’t come because someone made a higher bid or the federal government takes it for “our stockpile.”

Over 2,000 federal ventilators in the federal stockpile won’t work because of no maintenance. When maintenance contract expired in August 2019, DDT gave the maintenance contract to another company. The ensuing dispute between the two companies wasn’t settled until January 2020 with no maintenance for six months.

DDT has said that states can get equipment they need if are “appreciative” of him. Florida gets 100 percent of its requests because of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ closeness to DDT, and Kentucky, with DDT’s protector Mitch McConnell, and Oklahoma, get things it doesn’t ask for. New York, with almost half the country’s deaths from the virus, badly suffers from DDT’s dislike of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose brother is a CNN news anchor. Oklahoma asked for 16,000 face shields and got 120,000 along with 84,000 N95 mask, over twice the state’s request. New York needs 30,000 ventilators and were sent 4,400. Wisconsin, with a new Democratic governor, asked for 190,000 nonsurgical masks from FEMA and got nothing.

DDT’s workers are also incompetent. Pennsylvania got shipments with no packing list, California got 170 broken ventilators, and Alabama got 28 cases of face masks with dry rot,

DDT isn’t ordering the vital ventilators.  Five years ago, the federal government paid a Pennsylvania $13.8 million to create a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilator to stockpile for emergencies. The project was finished last summer, and the FDA gave the company permission to see two higher-priced commercial versions around the world. Not one of these ventilators is in the United States. Last week, DDT finally told GM to mass-produce another company’s ventilator, but no senior official has mentioned the cheaper ventilator that the U.S. permits sold overseas. Lack of ventilators will be largely responsible for deaths from COVID-19. Last month, HHS said that the low-cost ventilator can provide pandemic preparedness; this month it says that companies are “free to develop other products based on technology developed in collaboration with the government.” Hopefully, the company can start making 4,000 ventilators a week—by next October.

Even after DDT knew about the health crisis, he continued to send dozens of shipments of crucial medical supplies to foreign governments. Instead of stockpiling vital respirators, ventilators, and protective gear manufactured in the U.S., he shipped them to Germany, Belgium, and Japan as late as March 17. Yet Tuesday, he said that he knew over a month ago that the crisis was “going to be horrible.” At the end of March, the U.S. begged Thailand for a medical shipment, only to be told that the U.S. had just sent two large shipments of equipment to Bangkok. Yet at Friday’s press briefing, he continued to heap blame on President Obama. “The shelves were empty,” he repeated in complaints about President Obama after emptying themselves by sending vital supplies offshore.

DDT’s Agriculture Department stalls actions on requests from food banks to speed up distribution through relaxed regs. Millions of newly-unemployed people are inundating food banks that are required to collect information—name, address, household size, and income—to ensure the recipients are under a state-set threshold. At least four states have asked for a suspension of this process and use disaster protocols. USDA first refused and then approved the plans in three states for a month. The rules aren’t lifted in states not formally submitting requests although the department could do this under DDT’s national emergency order on March 13. Greater numbers and longer interactions mean greater danger of contracting COVID-19, and many distributors, for example in Ohio, don’t wear protective gear to save the PPE for healthcare workers. At the first food-bank drive-through distribution in Greater Pittsburgh, cars line up for over a mile as volunteers and staffers worked in the rain to get information, about five minutes per car.

DDT refuses to re-open Affordable Care Act despite millions of workers losing their jobs. People living in 38 states using HealthCare.gov may not be able to get insurance. DDT’s actions endanger not only the people without insurance but everyone else because people without insurance probably won’t seek care for illness. At the same time, DDT is backing the lawsuit to remove the Affordable Care Act.

VP Mike Pence ignored any problem about lack of health insurance at a press briefing this week. He repeatedly referred to two insurance companies as “inspiring” because they will forgo payment for COVID-19 testing and treatment but couldn’t answer how everyone else will pay for these needs. He said that “states all the country have Medicaid” but ignored states that refuse Medicaid to people who have lost their jobs. Different restrictions in other states also block people from Medicaid. About Pence’s answer, DDT laughed and said:

“I think it’s one of the greatest answers I’ve ever heard. Because Mike was able to speak for five minutes and not even touch your question. That’s what you call a great professional.”

DDT still doesn’t provide enough tests for people who need them. Yet today, for a lark, he tested all his wealthy oil friends who showed up at the White House to praise him. Actor Daniel Newman is a classic case of testing shortages. In mid-March, he was billed $9,116 for a test that wasn’t processed. He got the test before the law requiring free testing after experiencing symptoms, but his insurance company refused to cover the cost. After Newman was swabbed, the doctor told him that the hospital wasn’t allowed to process the sample because of the limitations on tests each day.

DDT largely ignores the plight of U.S. people when he talks at press briefings while fawning over wealthy business CEOS (aka DDT donors). MyPillow founder, TV pitchman, and DDT donor Mike Lindell went over the edge in his extravagant statements that “God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we’re on.” Lindell continued by make several references to the name of his company. Missing among the parade of big business is the Trump Organization because DDT has offered nothing.

Health experts’ predictions don’t match the White House statements about 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, but White House officials won’t explain how they made their determinations or release their data. Inside the White House, officials argue about the accuracy of the new projections. Last week, Anthony S. Fauci said at a task force meeting that the models brought out at the daily press briefings aren’t “reliable. A leading epidemiologist said the estimate seemed to be rushed with answers required in 24 hours. The White House prediction also lacks a timeline, citing a few months or the year-plus required for a vaccine. The public has been given only one slide for information. Models are used for long-term strategy, something not found in the White House. 

DDT’s lack of leadership has left inadequate manufacturing, inability  and unwillingness to distribute supplies to place that need them, and complete confusion in who is in charge of the logistics.

March 17, 2020

DDT Changes Spin on Covid-19, Sort Of

Over three years ago on January 13, 2017, before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was inaugurated, his proposed Cabinet officials and other aides received a three-hour briefing about responding to a global epidemic. Detailed briefing books contained scenarios much like the world has experienced during the last few months, complete with warnings about shortages of ventilators, anti-viral drugs, and other medical essentials. Information stressed the “paramount” importance of a coordinated, unified national response. Materials included available legal authorities to pursue a response, and capabilities and responsibilities of different agencies, and detailed explanations of numerous laws and regulations that might affect their work, such as the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

New officials were dismissive of the briefing, and the books were later found in the trash. In talking about covid-19, DDT has made comments such as “you can never really think” that a pandemic like the coronavirus “is going to happen” despite the briefing. This video tracks DDT as he incessantly minimizes any problems from the virus in the U.S. Documents given DDT and his officials show a specific plan for dealing with a pandemic, a plan that DDT ignored.  

As of tonight, the U.S. has 6,456 confirmed cases, 1,793 from just today, and 109 deaths—21 percent of them occurring today. Confirmed cases are in all 50 states and D.C. In the world, 7,965 have died from covid-19 in 198,229 confirmed cases. China has had neither new cases nor deaths today, but some European countries are hard hit. 

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, has been the source of advice for DDT as he ignored his infectious disease and immunology experts. Kushner repeatedly told DDT the media exaggerated the severity of the virus outbreak. Knowing nothing about covid-19, Kushner still advises DDT’s direction on the virus strategy. (In the past, Kushner claimed to be an authority on the Palestine-Israel conflict because he read 25 books.) DDT’s disastrous speech last Wednesday in which he banned travel from most of the EU was created by Kushner and DDT’s white nationalist Stephen Miller so he would look as if he had a strategy.

DDT has been so convincing to his supporters that they encourage risky behavior to both themselves and others. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) urged people to go to restaurants and bars, despite warnings from leading expert Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay away from other people. After DDT echoed Fauci on Monday, tell people to “avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and public food courts,” Nunes lied and said he meant “take-out.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) bragged about going to a crowded restaurant and took a selfie with his family (right). “It’s packed tonight!” he tweeted.

In a Kendall (FL) megachurch, the pro-DDT pastor told his congregation to keep coming back to church because God’s house wouldn’t be contagious. He said, “If we die, we die for Christ.” In Tampa (FL), another pro-DDT pastor told people to shake hands with each other.

Former New York City police commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, pardoned by DDT last month, tweeted, “This hysteria is being created to destabilize the country and destroy [DDT].”  Other right-wing personalities falsely blame liberal billionaire George Soros for causing the virus.

Frequent Fox guest Mark Steyn, guest host on Rush Limbaugh’s show, falsely blamed San Francisco’s “shelter-in-place” guidelines keeping people at home on “compromised immune systems” in the “big gay town.” He added, “They don’t want all the gays dropping dead on the San Francisco mayor’s watch.” The guidelines cover seven million people with about 5 percent identifying as LGBTQ.

Even the private Facebook page for DDT-supporting first responders hasn’t changed its false message of covid-19 being a “hoax.” The leader said that DDT had to say that the virus is serious to fix the stock markets.

For better PR, DDT has decided to treat the virus more seriously, and Fox is struggling to keep up his 180-degree turn after their major hosts had downplayed its threat, calling it a conspiracy to undermine DDT.  Sean Hannity called it a “massive paradigm shift,” “a bold new precedent,” “America’s leadership.” Laura Ingraham moved from decrying the “panic pushers” to talking about “this dangerous health crisis.” Less favored host Trish Regan was simply taken off the air.

Since his speech almost a week ago, DDT has taken a covid-19 test, tried to stop talking about the importance of the stock market over people’s lives, called the virus a pandemic, and agreed with the House bill to give people food, testing, and paid sick leave. He now rates his response to the virus as ten out of ten although he told governors to get their own respirators and supplies, refused to let the Army Corps of Engineers build facilities for hospitals, and said that people shouldn’t try to get testing.

The government lost months in getting resources from the private sector, states, and academic institutions to test people which stopped efforts in tracking and controlling the virus while it could still be contained. In the beginning officials were afraid to tell DDT anything unpleasant, and when he learned about the virus, DDT was afraid bad news would adversely affect his reelection campaign. Now Republicans have jumped on the bandwagon to give money away for votes. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is an example of that approach. First, he didn’t want paid sick leave; now he says that the Democratic House bill doesn’t go far enough to help people. If the virus had to arrive, people are lucky it’s in an election year when candidates like Cotton needs votes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has ignored over 400 House bills to push through young unqualified ultra-conservative judges, is now excited about the current covid-19 bill and another one, perhaps costing $1 trillion. At a press conference today, he said that the Senate won’t leave until the next bill passes and talked about 53 people putting the bill together. Evidently Democrats are included. McConnell also said that he needs to “get permission to vote” on the bill which might mean that DDT has to give him permission. If so, the former third branch of government, Congress, has been subsumed under the executive branch, like the judiciary.  How DDT wants to disperse the funds: airlines, $50 billion; workers $100 billion; corporations $850 billion.

DDT has an advantage from the epidemic. The Supreme Court has suspended oral arguments for the first time since the Spanish flu in 1918, and the case on March 31 concerned the subpoenas from House committees to get DDT’s financial and tax records. There may be no decision by the end of June, meaning that the issue will not be settled until after the November election. Across the nation, federal and state courts are postponing in-person court proceedings.

Even elections are questionable. Louisiana, Georgia, and Ohio have rescheduled them, assuming that the virus will be gone by later spring. In Ohio, the governor declared a health emergency to call off today’s voting after a court denied his request, a dangerous precedent for DDT. Arizona, Florida, and Illinois plowed forward and all put Biden in first place. In the United States, only three states—Colorado, Oregon, and Washington— are smart enough to vote by mail, and 17 states demand a good reason for getting an absentee ballot. Only one of those states permits covid-19 as a reason for a mail-in ballot. Republicans fight against mail-in elections because it provides a paper trail and lets everyone vote without standing in long lines, two ways that the GOP manages to win elections. 

A frequent DDT message is that Democrats are politicizing the virus. Yet ten days ago, he complained about Democrats to Mar-a-Lago guests: 

“They’re trying to scare everybody, from meetings, cancel the meetings, close the schools—you know, destroy the country. And that’s ok, as long as we can win the election.”

Asked when he was going to make the virus apolitical, he said that he would respond to any criticism, already telling two governors to move faster when they pointed out the delayed response to the health crisis. VP Mike Pence has secret meetings with conservative “influencers” about spinning DDT’s efforts regarding the health crisis and providing PR for DDT’s reelection campaign.

Xenophobic DDT insists on referring to covid-19 as “the Chinese virus.” Called out for the term, he attached the Chinese for their theory that the U.S. military started the virus. A U.S. theory, however, accuses the Chinese to developing covid-19 as a bioweapon.

The most amazing DDT story of the week is his attempt to persuade a German company to relocate to the U.S. for its covid-19 vaccine research efforts and share the information only with the U.S. DDT said he would do anything to get the vaccine and offered the company money. DDT would likely buy a lot of shares in the company, but it turned him down.

People have less and less faith in federal response to and DDT’s statements about covid-19. Only 46 percent believe the federal government is doing enough to stop the virus’ spread, down from 61 percent last month. And only 37 percent have any trust in DDT, compared to 60 percent who have not much or no trust in what he says.  

October 5, 2019

DDT: Week 141 – Impeachment, Level 1

News about a presidential impeachment inquiry has escalated for 11 days, starting with the extortion of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to get “dirt” on Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for DDT’s releasing the $391 million congressional appropriation to Ukraine for its protection from Russian aggression. Outrage built after the DOJ and the Director of National Intelligence violated the law by refusing to release a whistleblower complaint about DDT’s “agreement” to Congress and expanded after public information about the proof in a July 25 telephone call between DDT and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Against the advice of his advisers, DDT released the call’s “rough transcript,” which DDT falsely described as an “exact word-for-word transcript” but was labeled as “not a verbatim transcription.” Sen. Angus King (I-ME) pointed out that the released document was only ten minutes long whereas the call lasted 30 minutes. The document also contained punctuation indicating deleted information, particularly in the DDT’s questions about the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike and his assumption that Hillary Clinton’s “missing emails,” created by conspiracy theories, are hidden in Ukraine. Under the control of John Bolton, the actual telephone call transcript, along with many others, is buried in deepest classification computer server.

For over a week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hid the fact that he was on the July 25 call until that information leaked. That fact makes him a witness in the impeachment process. Pompeo then tried to obstruct justice by saying five subpoenaed State Department officials could not testify before House committees. They have not complied with his order.

Kurt Volker, who recently resigned as an envoy to Ukraine, has already testified. He told House members that he warned Ukraine to stay out of DDT’s and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s politics because it would be interfering in the U.S election and Giuliani that Ukrainian political figures were giving him untrustworthy information about the Bidens. Giuliani ignored him and supported Ukrainian corruption. He admitted that he tried to pass off his Ukraine conspiracy theories as real by putting put fake White House logos that he gave to the State Department. Giuliani got his lies about the Bidens from an affidavit provided to Dimtry Firtash, former business partner of Paul Manafort imprisoned for financial fraud, who fled Ukraine to Austria after pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovych was overthrown in 2014. Other people involved in Giuliani’s conspiracy theory are frequent Sean Hannity husband-and-wife guests Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing who now work for Firtash’s legal team. After recent Ukraine top prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko said the Bidens had not violated the law, Guiliani turned on Lutsenko, no longer calling him an “honest guy.” The House has subpoenaed Giuliani’s documents to determine if he acted as DDT’s agent to advance DDT’s “personal political interests” by abusing his power. 

Volker released damning State Department text messages showing DDT’s efforts to “exchange” summit meetings for Ukraine’s promise to investigate the Bidens both before and after the July 25 telephone call. The language clearly gives the quid pro quo: “Assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/ ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington.” In a text, Bill Taylor, senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, showed the connection between releasing the $391 million in military aid and Ukraine’s investigating the Bidens: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” A detailed look at the texts. The thread of messages was broken when Sondland concealed it through telephone calls instead of texts. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who lied about ignorance about sexual assaults while he was an assistant wrestling coach, was scorched for his lies about the text messages.

DDT assigned Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the EU, to run his Ukrainian extortion plan after the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, refused to take that role and DDT recalled her to Washington. DDT said that Yovanovitch is “going to go through some things” and she’s “bad news.” Yavanovitch testifies before the House committee on Tuesday. Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) asked Pompeo to fire Yavanovitch for expressing “disdain” for the current administration. Sessions is now trying to become a House candidate for a district 100 miles from his former one.

Volker and Sondland drafted a statement for Zelensky soon after DDT’s July 25 telephone call that committed Ukraine to pursuing DDT’s requested investigations against his political rivals. Despite the incriminating texts, Sondland, a hotel developer and major DDT donor, claimed that no “quid pro quo” existed, but Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Sondland had told him the release of U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to Ukraine’s investigations of the Bidens. Weeks before the Ukraininan scandal erupted, DDT told Johnson that the conservative senator could not tell Zelensky that the U.S. foreign aid was on its way. Sondland testifies on Tuesday. DDT got renewed probes into the Bidens in exchange for $391 million although former investigations revealed no wrong on the Bidens’ part.

Questioned about Ukraine, DDT called on China to investigate the Bidens, saying he might ask President Xi Jinping to do this. DDT had already done this in a June 18 telephone call to Xi when he also offered to keep quiet about the Hong Kong protests for democracy in exchange for trade talks. The White House didn’t deny this conversation. About China, DDT said, “If they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

The national intelligence inspector general, Michael Atkinson, testified Friday about his process for he substantiating the whistle-blower’s account. Another person who met with Atkinson about joining the whistleblower in expressing concerns about DDT’s dealings with Ukraine has first-hand information about the events.

Part of DDT’s Ukrainian shakedown in May was to send Energy Secretary Rick Perry to Zelensky’s inauguration instead of VP Mike Pence. Perry pushed Ukraine for changes at its state-run oil and gas company including two U.S. citizens on its board, making him a part of the impeachment inquiry. He may resign as Secretary as soon as next month. Perry, who met with Zelensky at least two other times, said he will cooperate with the House in its empeachment inquiry. The DOD has also agreed to cooperate.

The House has subpoenaed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify, and the whistleblower agreed to testify. DDT’s threats against the person—going so far as murder—have made the negotiations difficult.

In a memorable segment on The Late Night Show, Stephen Colbert talked about Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt’s confusion about the impeachment story:

“I think this is too much in the weeds. First they are going after the president with impeachment, then they are going after Rudy Giuliani. Now it’s Bill Barr. And Americans are saying what? How are they all connected? Connect the dots for us? What are you talking about? It’s so much information.”

Colbert clarified the issue with a chalkboard on which he drew an arrow from “Trump” to “Ukraine” and said, “Trump asked for dirt on Biden from the Ukraine.” Earhardt’s ignorance may come from her getting news from the Fox network.

Most congressional Republicans can’t find any way to defend DDT except to attack the Bidens and the process. An accusation of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) seeing the whistleblower complaint before it was submitted—even helping write it—bore little fruit because it was a lie. Schiff’s staff members followed protocol by advising that the whistleblower see a lawyer. Another lie designed to distract is that the rules for whistleblower complaints changed after this filing; the intelligence IG said that was false. DDT also called for violence from white supremacist militias by declaring that impeachment—a congressional inquiry—is a coup—a violent overthrow of a government. He also threatened civil war if he is impeached.  

Republicans are operating from a position of blustering ignorance. On 60 Minutes, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) demonstrated ignorance about the contents of the July 25 telephone call summary. [Left: McCarthy.] Republicans complained that the whistleblower is not credible although they don’t know the identity of the person and the complaint is true. Not knowing the identity means that they cannot slime the whistleblower. DNI Joe Maguire said under oach that the whistleblower is not a “partisan hack.”

DDT and Republicans started out by saying that he had no communication with Zelensky. Evidence for the communication led to the claim thatit wasn’t illegal. DDT now claims the constitutional duty to personally fight global corruption—like a comic book hero—for the first time in almost three years. Asked by a reporter whether he had asked any foreign leaders to investigate anyone who isn’t a political rival, Mr. Trump said he’d have to check on that.

AG Bill Barr’s name is largely missing from the current scandal news because he’s trying to look “nonpartisan.” Instead he’s traveling the world, talking to foreign leaders, in an attempt to get “dirt” on the Mueller investigation and legitimize DDT’s 2016 election. Barr’s appointment to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, John Durham, has not interviewed any FBI or DOJ employees directly involved in the opening of the Russia investigation in 2016. The Ukrainian complaint was filed, however, after the DOJ refused to address the whistleblower’s earlier concern. The CIA counsel asking for an investigation, Countney Simmons Elwood, is a strong Republican. Barr also consistently protects DDT in lawsuits about DDT’s private finances, and his name will reappear.  

Last Sunday, a CBS/You-Gov poll showed that 55 percent of people support the impeachment inquiry. In an ABC News/Ipsos poll, 64 percent think that DDT tried to pressure Ukraine for dirt on Biden, and 64 percent see this action as a serious problem.

DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and subpoenaed Mulvaney are evidently the lead in defending DDT. Kushner was one of DDT’s White House officials who met with Zelensky—possibly making him part of the impeachment inquiry. Zelensky is on Kushner’s left at this dinner seven weeks before the telephone call. Also in attendance were Rick Perry and U.S. State Department Counselor, Ulrich Brechbuhl, who heard the July 25 telephone call. 

June 10, 2019

‘The Best [Corrupt] People’

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got elected, he frequently claimed that he would “surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” These “best people” have proved to be a disaster, even to DDT, and his phenomenal turnover means that at least 50 top officials left him within the past 16+ months since his inauguration.

Some of their names might not be well-known, but their disastrous influence remains. For example, leaving this past week was Kevin Hassett, chair of DDT’s Council of Economic Advisers and advocate of DDT’s tax cuts. Hassett said that his departure has nothing to do with DDT’s disastrous tariff decisions, but he questions a successful forecast in GDP growth for 2019 and is “very much concerned” about the growing fiscal deficit. Other departed economic advisers include Paul Winfree who came from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, Jeremy Katz who also pushed the tax cut bill, Dina Powell who worked with Ivanka Trump on “empowerment of women,” Gary Cohn who was formerly president and COO of Goldman Sachs who wasn’t happy with DDT’s blaming “both sides” in the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville (VA) and left after dissatisfaction with DDT’s tariff policy, Everett Eissenstat who left to be GM’s senior vice president of global public policy, Clete Willems who dumped a job to negotiate with China to join a law firm public law and policy practice, and Linda McMahon who helped build World Wrestling Entertainment who did stay with DDT to chair one of his super PACs. And these are only some of the people in his economic world.

Staying, of course, is DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who seems to be charge of almost everything because he doesn’t have any other place to go. Almost totally silent for his first two years, he appeared two times in the past few weeks. One was testimony with hardliner neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in a closed Senate session about DDT’s new immigration plan. Kushner managed to avoid most questions and failed to provide solutions while frequently interrupted by Miller. Republicans publicly praised Kushner for the presentation of a merit-based system for the highest skilled people but privately said that he lacked clear answers. He said that immigrants would be required to pass a civics test to get access to the point system but then avowed that the central purpose is to unify immigrant families, including mothers and children. He couldn’t answer a question about what do to with undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Because Kushner rejected the idea of DACA, GOP officials gave the immigration plan as much chance as Kushner’s peace plan in the Middle East—which is zero.

Kushner’s next performance, an interview with Axios, got a lot more media play: 

“Uh when there are things that they don’t do that we do not approve of, we we talk about that with them privately, but we feel like we’re in a position now where there’s a lot of interest that we have that are shared with them.”—about Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who tortured and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (After Kushner’s interview, DDT said he didn’t blame MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.)

“It’s a horrific thing that happened, and what we’ve done is we’ve called for full transparency.”—about whether the Saudis should return Khashoggi’s body for a proper burial.

“Look, I would not have come into government had there been anything salacious and nefarious that I was worried about.”—about the headline, “Background check chief has ‘never seen’ mistakes and omissions at level of Jared Kushner forms.”

“So, the answer is no, absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for president and be a racist. And what I’ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country…. Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.”—a statement that he made over and over about whether DDT is a racist, with the example that DDT continually claimed that President Obama was not born in the United States.

“Look, I think that the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”—about whether DDT’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims from the U.S. was “religiously bigoted.”

“It doesn’t make a difference.”—about the number of refugees permitted to settle in the U.S.

“I do think this is a terrible thing. Because you want people who have been successful in this country, who have taken advantage of the greatness of the opportunity that America provides, to go into government and to serve their country. When they get harassed and they have their companies looked at and their employees have to deal with this nonsense because people want to push a narrative, I think that’s a terrible thing.”—about whether Deutsche Bank should examine transactions moving cash from companies Kushner controls to Russians.

“[The meeting was] total waste of time, [and] we were not given anything that was salacious.”—about whether he should have called the FBI about Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and whether he would call the FBI if it happened again.

“Look, I’m not here to be trusted.”—about why Palestinians don’t trust him in the peace negotiations.

Kushner owns part of real estate company Cadre that received $90 million in mysterious foreign funding since he became DDT’s senior adviser. The money was funneled from a Cayman Islands through Goldman Sachs. Kushner was refused a security clearance, but DDT demanded that he be given one.

Another Cabinet member is also being investigated for conflict of interest. Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has high-level political connections in China because of her family’s shipping company which helped both Chao and McConnell prosper. Part of Chao’s job is to promote U.S. maritime industry.

Chao’s father James S.C. Chao was once roommate with Jiang Zemin who became president of China. He founded Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company in 1964 and received a big contract with the U.S. government to ship rice to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. In 1984, the Chao family acquired part of a Chinese-owned manufacturer of marine electronic equipment although they can’t remember the investment. With some of its ship-building financed by Chinese loans, Foremost ships over 70 percent of its freight, mostly iron ore, to China for steel manufacturing. DDT has temporarily lifted tariffs on imported steel. Chao’s Transportation Department has cut programs for U.S.-flagged ships and replacing ships to train U.S. mariners. Congress replaced the money, but Chao is still being questioned for her connections and status to boost Foremost’s reputation and visibility. In her confirmation hearings, she failed to mention her family’s deep ties to the Chinese maritime industry and her accolades China gives her, a violation of her questionnaire. Thirteen members of the Chao family donated over $1 million to McConnell’s campaigns and PACs. James Chao gave the couple at least $25 million.

McConnell himself also has problems with taking campaign money from Russians–$3.5 million from oligarch Oleg Deripaska. When DDT wanted to lift sanctions last year against mafia-esque Deripaska, Vladimir Putin’s friend, McConnell pushed the Senate into following DDT’s directions although the GOP House voted 362-53 to keep the sanctions in place. Lifting sanctions allowed Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal and its parent company En+ back into the U.S. Within four months of McConnell’s favor to Deripaska, who also worked with DDT’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Deripaska’s Russian aluminum company Rusal sent $200 million for a $1.7 billion aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky. Part of the action came from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), known for his ethical problems with prostitution. Vitter’s wife, one of DDT’s judicial nominees, was not been able to get confirmed for over 18 months—partly because she didn’t support Brown v. Topeka, the Supreme Court case that just celebrated its 55th anniversary for overturning public school segregation. Soon after Sen. Vitter told McConnell about brokering the deal to pour Deripaska’s money into Kentucky, wife Wendy Vitter was confirmed for her lifetime federal judicial term. And the payoffs are all out in the open, no need to hide any of the quid pro quo.

The husband/wife team work well together. Chao designated a special liaison, McConnell’s advance man Scott Inman in McConnell’s 2014 election, to help with grant applications and other priorities from the Transportation Department for McConnell’s state of Kentucky, providing him with at least $78 million for his projects as he runs for re-election in 2020. No other state has this advantage. Earmarks are supposedly no longer legal, but McConnell has found another way to funnel a large amount of money into his state as these details prove. As McConnell said, “All 100 senators may have one vote, but they’re not all equal. Kentucky benefits from having one of its own setting the agenda for the country.” And set it, he does.

May 6, 2019

Back to the Swinging Doors of DDT’s Administration

People keep moving in an out of the administration:

Stephen Moore is the latest person to be fired before hired. Once a recommendation by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) alongside Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board, he lasted longer than Cain. DDT said that he had pulled his name, but two hours earlier Moore had claimed that DDT was “full speed ahead” and that Moore is “all in.” The same thing happened to Cain who was positive that he was the nominee until DDT’s tweet told a different story. For the past month, Moore complained about a “sleaze” campaign that cited his writings from years ago. Yet the day before DDT dumped him, he talked about higher wages for women than for the “breadwinner” causing the “family instability.” Moore has much more going against him currently than his lack of experience, ignorance, racism, and misogyny. His leadership of the Koch-backed ALEC proved his austerity and anti-labor positions promoting income inequality, stagnant incomes, and suppressed wages.Ten years ago, Moore said, “I’m not even a big believer in democracy.”

Like Nixon, DDT is trying to politicize the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates and get re-elected. Nixon got his wish in a booming economy, but his scheme led to double-digit inflation.

Oil lobbyist David Bernhardt lasted four days without being investigated after he was confirmed as Interior Department Secretary from Senate Republicans. This coming week, both his investigator and the agency’s top lawyer face Senate confirmation hearings for their posts. The lawyer, who formerly advised the Koch brothers, advised both Bernhardt and his predecessor, Ryan Zinke, regarding legal and ethical issues as well as serving as chief public records officer. This connection erases any separation between politics and Freedom of Information in an agency that works hard to hide their actions. The lawyer said his “job is to protect the Secretary.”

Bernhardt is being investigating for involvement in policies affecting former clients. The Department admitted that Bernhardt’s staff deliberately failed to record his controversial meetings with representatives of fossil fuel, timber and water interests on his public calendar by citing “internal protocol.” They also confirmed he used a personal itinerary overwritten by his scheduling staff after denying that it happened for several months. Many entries were simply described as “internal” or “external.” An agency officer told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the Oversight Committee, that Bernhardt’s calendar was “deleted at the end of the day.” These practices also violate federal record laws. Later a Department spokeswoman said these practices didn’t exist.

The investigation in the Interior Department includes a total of six of DDT’s appointees who may have conflicts of interest by engaging with former employers or clients about the business of the Department. These include Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, White House liaison Lori Mashburn, three top staffers at the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, and the department’s former energy policy adviser. The Assistant Secretary kept interacting with his former employer, a conservative think tank, after he joined the Interior Department to discuss pending lawsuits that were settled in his former employer’s interests. Another investigation concerned a former lobbyist for the NRA who participated in issues about his former clients after he joined the Department. He also got recreational shooting opened up in the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Mark Morgan is DDT’s pick for the head of ICE. He supports DDT’s wall on the southern border and denied that children were held in “cages.” Earlier this year, DDT has named Ronald Vitiello for the position but dropped him, saying that “we’re going in a tougher direction.” Matthew Albence, currently acting ICE director, had said that immigration detention is like “summer camp.” A former senior official said, “Matt never met an undocumented immigrant that he wouldn’t deport.”

Morgan is a good match for Kevin McAleenan, new acting DHS secretary, who promoted family separation to “protect families and children,” even separating legal asylum seekers at legal ports of entry. Last December, McAleenan broke the law by failing to notify Congress with 24 hours of the deaths of two children. Then he forced migrant families to sleep underneath an El Paso bridge in dangerous, unhealthy conditions. McAleenan was in charge of firing tear gas at asylum-seekers. His agents were also well known for ethnic profiling, illegal searches, seizure of religious items, and sometimes, murder and rape.

Julie Kirchner, former leader for the anti-immigration group Federation for American Immigration Reform, is DDT’s consideration to head U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services if DDT fires Francis Cissna in Stephen Miller’s purge of the federal government. Founded by a white supremacist, FAIR has been labeled a hate group. Currently Kirchner investigates individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities for USCIS. If confirmed for the head of the agency, she would control the adjudication of applications for asylum, green cards, citizenship, and renewals for protective programs like DACA and TPS.

Patrick Shanahan remains acting as Secretary of Defense as more and more bad news comes from and about his former employer and friend, Boeing. The latest is Boeing’s admission that warning lights were “optional” on the 737 Max commercial jetliners that killed hundreds of people in the last few months. Earlier Boeing tried to blame pilots for their lack of performance. Now the company claims that the lights had no impact on the planes’ safety. Only 20 percent of ordered planes had this upgrade to activate the warning sensor. Neither pilots nor the FAA safety inspectors and supervisors were told about the lack of this safety feature. DDT has suggested that Boeing can solve all its problems with the 737 Max 8 jets by renaming them.

Less than two weeks ago, an internal investigation cleared Shanahan of conflicts of interest although Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson expressed three concerns: his decision to accept the problematic KC-46 tanker, his meeting with Space X CEO Elon Musk, and possible inappropriate sharing of classified information from Boeing programs. Shanahan also incessantly praised the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Internal documents about the Dreamliner production as well as interviews with employees show the same kind of shoddy work on the 737 Max. A quality manager who pointed out problems was moved to other parts of the South Carolina plant where Boeing moved manufacturing despite a lack of comparable work force to that in the Seattle area. As a “right-to-work” state, South Carolina employees can be paid less than in Washington, and the state gave Boeing $1 billion. Fortunately, the Dreamliner has not had a crash yet although it was grounded for a time because of overheating batteries.

Last week, a Boeing 737 slid off a Florida runway into the St. Johns River.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is one of the subjects named by Sears in a lawsuit against its former CEO Edward Lampert, claiming that Mnuchin was part of the board members who helped Lampert and his hedge fund strip Sears of over $2 billion. Lampert and Mnuchin were roommates at Yale University and worked together at Goldman Sachs.

Jared Kushner has done his daddy-in-law proud with his extremely rare public appearance at the Times 100 Summit. He downplayed the Russian election interference from the Mueller report as “a couple of Facebook ads.” Kushner missed the part about the “expansive and expensive” Russian attack, as described by Steve Benen, including “public events, advertising, rallies, p.r. stunts, outreach to domestic allies, and an aggressive social-media component [that] reached as many as 126 million people.”

John Kelly, once DHS Secretary before becoming DDT’s chief of staff, has found a way to make money off his attitudes about immigrants and still avoid DDT. Kelly is now a board member of Caliburn International, the company owning the biggest detention centers for unaccompanied migrant youth. Caliburn received $222 million from taxpayers for a year, but their centers’ capacity has increased from 1,250 beds to 3,200 beds in just one detention center.

Scott Walker, loser as presidential candidate and Wisconsin’s most recent gubernatorial race, found a new job: he’s honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions—aka pusher for a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Ostensibly a Republican, Walker seems to be on the opposite side of congressional Republicans who are driving the national debt sky high. In every date, including Wisconsin, the infrastructure is collapsing while wealthy individuals and corporations received massive tax cuts.

Before he left Wisconsin, Walker put the state’s taxpayers on the hook for $4.1 billion to employ 13,000 people at Foxconn’s manufacturing plant. The deal was announced with DDT; a photo may show the only work DDT has done. Foxconn backed out of the manufacturing plant, and the number of employees dropped to 1,000 workers—about $4 million for each job. Manufacturing the product in China will “be more profitable” for Foxconn, according to one of its officials. Last year, the company hired 178 people, 82 fewer than needed for its first $10 million tax cut. On the campaign trail a week ago, DDT asked Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, to be more “optimistic and hopeful” about Foxconn. Without re-negotiation, which Foxconn hasn’t supported, Wisconsin taxpayers are totally screwed.

Thanks to Walker and his Republicans, almost 15 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy farms aren’t milking or have disappeared. Despite oversupply, Walker tried to beat California in milk production and dropped milk prices by over 25 percent. Other losses included less immigrant farm labor and DDT’s trade war.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

 

 

March 1, 2019

DDT: Week 110 – Really Bad Week

Following Wednesday’s day-long open testimony before the House Oversight Committee by Michael Cohen, one-time fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), about how DDT runs his business, the grand summit in Vietnam with North Korea ended with a splat when a luncheon signing ceremony was canceled after the table was set. DDT’s tone about Kim Jong-Un was much cooler than his earlier declaration about the love affair with Kim Jong-Un. The U.S. had already stopped the need for a full accounting of North Korea nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. U.S. intelligence agencies continually maintain that North Korea does not intend to fully denuclearize.

As he earlier said about Vladimir Putin, DDT said, “I will take him at his word,” this time about Kim’s professed ignorance regarding U.S. citizen, Otto Warmbier, who was tortured in North Korea and was returned with severe brain damage. Warmbier died soon after his release. DDT failed to follow through with his promise to press Kim about human rights abuses: North Korea uses torture and “disappears” people accused of political crimes to prison camps where they cannot communicate the outside world. Before going to the summit, DDT asked Russia for advice on how to deal with North Korea, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was present in Hanoi during the summit. DDT also said he takes Kim “at his word” when he says he won’t be doing any testing of weapons. Kim one of several world dictators who DDT supports, sometimes believing them over U.S. intelligence: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Journalists suffered from DDT’s ire, first forced to move their filing center from the hotel where they stayed because Kim wanted them out. DDT banned four reporters from covering an event—Associated Press, Bloomberg, LA Times, and Reuters—because questions were asked about Cohen’s testimony, showing a dictator that DDT has weakened the constitutional freedom of the press.

Before DDT went to North Korea, he said that he’s in “no rush” to denuclearize North Korea. His aides, including national security adviser John Bolton, predicted the summit would fail, and  Bruce Klingner, analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, sees “no tangible progress” toward denuclearization since DDT’s meeting with Kim in Singapore. Klingner pointed out that periods of testing moratoriums were longer in previous administrations, and U.S. intelligence notes that North Korea is still building missiles. MIT nuclear expert Vipin Narang said, “We are nowhere. Which is probably exactly where the North Koreans want us to be.”

No longer is DDT falsely claiming that the U.S. has no nuclear threat from North Korea, as he did after the first meeting with Kim. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have stopped this claim because he had to lie to CNN’s Jake Tapper about the first time that DDT made this outrageous statement. DDT kept asking Pompeo to explain details of the summit at the press conference before he left Hanoi.

Although DDT complained that the Cohen testimony took attention away from his North Korea summit, he should have been grateful because of his failure in Hanoi. He bragged that Michael Cohen had said “no collusion,” but Cohen reported that DDT knew about the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, Roger Stone got the Democratic emails from Julian Assange, and nothing went on at the Trump Organization—and probably the campaign—without DDT’s approval.

DDT’s most recent failure comes the disclosure of memos from two White House officials refuting his claim that he had nothing to do with the highest-level security clearance given to his son-in-law Jared Kushner in spite of intelligence officials’ warning against it. Former chief-of-staff John Kelly wrote a memo about how he was “ordered” to give a clearance to Kushner, and former White House counsel Don McGahn wrote a memo about security concerns regarding Kushner that had been raised by the CIA and a recommendation that he not be granted the clearance. Both of those men are gone, but Kushner is still harvesting the highest-level classified information for his personal financial benefit. Kushner also advised the Saudi Crown Prince how to avoid the blame for his murdering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and amid this week’s controversy, Kushner had a friendly meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince. This fiasco is not just another of DDT’s peccadilloes; it’s a national security disaster.

The stock market is still sagging despite DDT’s claim about improved trade relationships with China. He supposedly backed off from more tariffs on Chinese goods but provided no details and has no signed official agreements. South Dakota’s GOP governor, Kristi Noem, said DDT’s trade wars have “devastated” her state. She warned that the agriculture disaster can touch “every main street business, everybody that has another entity out there that relies on a successful ag industry.” Over 60 percent of voters in the state hoped for a better future with DDT when they voted for him.

DDT is also backing down on steel tariffs, excusing 370 U.S. companies from paying them on imports of up to 4.1 million tons from China, Japan, and other countries. The almost 14,000 exemptions, 59 percent of them for firms with a foreign corporate parent, cover eight percent of the total from China and almost 30 percent from Japan.

In a backlash against DDT’s wall declaration, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Udall (D-NM) co-sponsored a resolution to terminate the national emergency because it is “an end run around Congress’s power to appropriate.” Collins quoted Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers about the power of the purse being reserved for the legislature as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.” She said that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) support the joint resolution.

More than a month after the longest government shutdown in US history ended, a significant number of Transportation Security Administration employees still have not received all of their back-pay.

A former staffer on DDT’s presidential campaign filed a lawsuit against him for sexual misconduct outside a rally in Tampa. His behavior followed his claim to a pattern in 2005: “Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” She is the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct after he announced his run for president.

White supremacist hate groups have increased by 50 percent to 148 in the two years since DDT was inaugurated. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the “Proud Boys,” in its category of “general hate” and supported by Republicans, as “the most relentless campaign of rightwing street violence in recent memory” in its attendance at frequently violent street rallies. The organization has 44 chapters in 31 states, and its chairman, Enrique Tarrio, was seen in a place of pride at DDT’s Miami rally last month. Tarrio also visited Roger Stone after his arrest by the FBI, and the Proud Boys have a video of Stone’s initiated into their group. The SPLC report also names DDT and his Twitter account for pushing “noxious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.”

As DDT prepares to hand over nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, leave nuclear power in North Korea, and invade Venezuela, he desperately wants a Nobel Peace Prize because President Obama got one. He bragged about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominating him for the award, avoiding the fact that Abe was asked to do so, probably by Jared Kushner. Abe has not yet verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee. Last year, two “nominations,” both forgeries, came from the same person. Abe has not verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee.

Another Manhattan condo association voted to take the Trump name off the building, the fifth in one neighborhood. In the 11 properties keeping the Trump name, the square footage brings less than in non-DDT-named places.

Release of 2018 ratings for world leadership shows that the U.S. went up only one percent after dropping from 48 to 30 percent between 2017 and 2018. Disapproval is still up 12 points since DDT’s inauguration.

Public opinion is heading in the opposite direction from GOP leadership: Russia is considered the chief enemy of the U.S., and 73 percent of people look at Russia unfavorably—both highs in Gallup polls. In a poll about affirmative action, 65 percent want programs for women, up from 60 percent, and in another high 61 percent want affirmative action for minorities. White people are behind the increase in voting for the need for minorities. DDT is rapidly losing his popularity with Republicans and independents.

January 24, 2019

Shutdown Bills Fail; House Investigates Kushner

Day 34 of government shutdown: Both of today’s Senate bills designed to reopen the government failed when neither one met the 60 votes necessary. In a 51-47 vote, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AL) voted against their party in opposing the measure proposed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to get his $5.7 billion for 200 miles of wall, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-VA) supported DDT’s bill with the wall. The second bill from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to open the government with a continuing resolution until February 8 had one more supporting vote, 52-44, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), Lamar Alexander (TN), Johnny Isakson (GA) and Mitt Romney (UT) joining Democrats.

Billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that he doesn’t understand why federal employees without paychecks don’t get loans instead of using food banks. He claimed that financial institutions just give them loans against “the 30 days of pay that people will be out.” Ross added that even if these 800,000 people never got their pay, they’re “about a third of a percent on our GDP. So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

DDT, another billionaire, had a peculiar reaction to Ross. He thought that Ross was accurate in his assertion that federal employees, either furloughed or working without pay, don’t need to get emergency help from homeless shelters and food pantries because—drum roll!—grocery stores will give these paycheck-less people food without paying for it. He said:

“Local people know who they are. Where they go for groceries and everything else. If you have mortgages, mortgagees, the folks collecting the interest and all of those things, they work along. That’s what happens in times like these. They know the people. They’ve been dealing with them for years, and they work along.”

Two months ago, DDT was telling people that they needed IDs to buy a box of cereal.

Republicans are getting so desperate that they are yelling at VP Mike Pence. In a private meeting two days ago, several senators harangued Pence, who said that the White House was working on a strategy to reopen the government and that they should not vote for the Democrat-offered bill that got six GOP votes today.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said they gave Pence an “earful” because “we’re all hearing from our constituents who are working for no pay.” Other members criticizing Pence included GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Boozman (AR), Johnny Isakson (GA), and Jerry Moran (KS). Two of them voted for the Democratic-supported bill.

Fly at your own risk during the shutdown is the message from representatives of air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants. Making things worse, they report that the FAA “has frozen hiring and shuttered its training academy, so there is no plan in effect to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.” Certification requires two to four years, and the U.S. has the fewest number of air traffic controllers in 30 years.

According to CEOs, DDT is hurting business with the shutdown and low immigration with lack of investment in research and development, education, and entrepreneurship. The National Science Foundation has not issued any grants for over a month, and government researchers in agencies such as NOAA, the EPA, and the U.S. Geological Survey don’t get paychecks. Hundreds of postdoctoral fellows don’t get their stipends. Loss of immigration is destroying U.S. innovation.

In a “what if” piece, Rachel Maddow suggests a “Worst Case Scenario” in which Russia’s Vladimir Putin is behind the government shutdown. At one time, this idea would be too far-fetched, but Robert Mueller’s investigation has found hundreds of links with DDT’s campaign; ties with Russia and national security adviser John Bolton, Maria Butina, the NRA; threats against Michael Cohen’s family to keep him from testifying; and Oleg Deripaska’s Belarusian escort, who claimed to have information about DDT, was returned to Russia and may be in early states of poisoning. Putin wanted interference in the presidential election to cause chaos within the United States.

Now federal agency employees who were called back to work without pay—TSA agents, meat inspectors, prison guards, IRS workers, etc.—are starting to walk off their jobs, adding to the impact of jobs not being done by furloughed employees. Imagine if people can no longer trust safety in flying, food, and water and from crime while not receiving their tax refunds in addition to millions losing income from the missing paychecks for 800,000 federal employees. DDT is behind the shutdown and shows little urgency in reopening the government. He is also the focus of the biggest criminal and counter-intelligence investigation of any sitting U.S. president.

DailyKos has ideas for what a U.S. leader following Putin’s strategy could do to weaken the United States:

  • Relax sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs to give them more money.
  • Antagonize U.S. allies.
  • Polarize the U.S. with ugly divisive rhetoric.
  • Attack U.S. institutions, especially the judiciary, and replace the leadership with his cronies.
  • Pull the U.S. out of multinational trade and security alliances.
  • Excessively praise Putin.
  • Implement irrational economic trade sanctions to weaken U.S. economy.
  • Use excessive measures to conceal communications with Putin.
  • Consistently repeat Putin’s propaganda talking points.
  • Shut down the U.S. government for a ridiculous rationale and continue to cripple the U.S. with huge political, security, social, and financial damage.

Two years ago, this scenario would have seemed impossible. Now some might like to think it’s improbable, but every DDT action makes the proposition appear more likely.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), new chair of the Judiciary Committee, has an answer for the crisis facing many people in the U.S. during the shutdown: investigate Hillary Clinton’s email server, specifically the FBI’s handling of the situation and the FISA warrant application targeting DDT’s campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI investigated Page after the possibility that he conspired with Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Graham believes that the FBI was “in the tank” for her campaign and accused them of a double standard in the agency’s handling of the two presidential campaigns. In actuality, he’s right: the FBI helped swing the election to DDT by publicizing non-existent problems with Clinton and hiding real investigations into DDT.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) laughed at Graham’s plans and compared them to the ”thrilling days of yesteryear.” Durham said:

“This is going to be like the History Channel, it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton.”

Durbin added that Graham may want to investigate Jimmy Carter next. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a judiciary committee member, joked that Graham might want to “investigate Benghazi some more.”

The House Oversight Committee plans an investigation into “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration” with the focus on White House handling of classified information, including DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Over 130 political appointees in DDT’s office lack permanent security clearances as of 2017, include Kushner and DDT’s daughter Ivanka.

The House committee has even more grist for its mill since the revelation that Kushner’s application for a top secret clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists because of FBI concerns about possible foreign influence on him. Overruling this decision from an investigation, the specialists’ supervisor, Carl Kline, approved the clearance. In unprecedented behavior, Kline, a DDT appointee, repeated this overruling 30 times despite unfavorable information on each of the applicants. Sources indicated that “the Trump White House attracted many people with untraditional backgrounds who had complicated financial and personal histories, some of which raised red flags.”

Kushner, who had to redo and correct his application clearance 40 times, received questions about foreign contacts, travel, and meetings as well as his family’s business. After Kline gave Kushner secret and top secret clearances, Kushner went to the CIA seeking a higher that allows him to access “sensitive compartmented information” that includes transcripts of intercepted foreign communications and CIA source reporting. Kline even stopped credit checks on security clearance applicants.

The CIA reviewed Kushner’s materials and questioned even the “top secret” clearance giving Kushner access to material that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to adversaries. Officials are questioning whether the White House overruled the CIA refusal for the SCI clearance. A year ago, WaPo reported that officials in at least four countries—United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico—talked about how they could manipulate Kushner though his lack of policy experience, financial difficulties, and business arrangements.

The House needs to work fast!

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