Nel's New Day

February 2, 2020

DDT: Week 158 – Beyond Impeachment

For 18 years, the U.S. has been bombing Afghanistan. The increase to 15,000 in the past two years came after former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis changed the rules of engagement so that coalition forces could open fire on the enemy without close contact. The bombings have also spiked the number of civilian deaths—more in the first half of 2019 than insurgents.

More civilians will be killed because of DDT’s decision this past week to allow landmines anywhere and rescind President Obama’s 2014 order to limit these weapons to the Korean Peninsula, a policy closer to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Over 160 nations ratified this treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention. The U.S. is one of 32 UN member states not ratifying the treaty. The majority of 130,000 people killed by landmines between 1999 and 2018 were civilians. Once again, DDT ignored Congress in making this decision. The U.S. has not used landmines since the first Gulf War in 1991. Experts, including U.S. defense officials, say that anti-personnel landmines are not helpful in war.

DDT can also kill more people with his new “low-yield” nuclear warhead, the W76-2, on a submarine patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. With a yield of five kilotons, the warhead has one-third the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) in 1945 that instantly killed 80,000 people and tens of thousands of people after that from radiation.

Six more countries have been added to the seven already on the travel ban with the reason that conditions, especially terrorism, should keep citizens from moving to the U.S. The U.S. government, however, sells weapons to five of the six countries, everything from handguns and automatic weapons to light attack aircraft. Nigeria is one country buying millions of dollars in weapons since DDT moved into the Oval Office—weapons frequently lost to Boko Haram. The Arms Sales Risk Index of 0-to-100 has gone from 41 during George W. Bush’s terms to 69 under DDT. In his travel bans, DDT focuses on countries with sizeable Muslim populations, not on those with terrorism. The bans for Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria are only for permanent residency, not for visitors. 

DDT’s win in the Supreme Court this week is a loss for the U.S. economy when conservative justices approved DDT’s proceeding with his public charge rule. His order to deny immigration if an official predicts a person might use specific benefits for 12 months with a future 36-month period reduces legal immigration to the U.S. by hundreds of thousands and drastically reduces the labor force. Economists predict that the U.S. would not have the majority of economic growth between 2011 and 2016 following the recession without the contributions of immigrants. Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist Ruchir Sharma said, “In the past decade, population growth, including immigration, has accounted for roughly half of the potential economic growth rate in the United States.” The law already prevents immigrants from receiving major federal public benefits during their first five years in the country, but the rule satisfies Stephen Miller’s obsession to block ethnic minorities from the United States. The public charge rule stays in effect while lawsuits work through lower courts.

The State Department has issued new rules to stop “birth tourism” in which wealthy women, many from China and Russia, visit the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens who can then sponsor their family members for U.S. visas. As they grow up, these babies can have other advantages such as advantages in scholarships. The scale of births, 33,000 annually, is small and block pregnant women who have legitimate reasons to study or work in the U.S. or come with their spouses. Restrictions would also block pregnant women from visiting families and needed medical treatment. https://www.thedailybeast.com/russians-flock-to-trump-properties-to-give-birth-to-us-citizens  Ironically, DDT has made money off “birth tourism” because pregnant women have rented his Florida condos at huge costs to Russians and paid to go to his nearby International Beach Resort.

Agricultural Department secretary Sonny Perdue, DDT’s appointment, says that farm workers are overpaid because a law requires their wages match the prevailing rate in the farm areas to keep from undermining wages of nearby workers. Perdue’s goals are to increase temporary immigration with no path to citizenship and cut their wages. Although wages for farm workers have slightly increased, they are still less than 40 percent below those of other non-supervisory U.S. workers–$24,620 annual average wage in 2018. A federal survey reported that “farm workers’ mean and median personal incomes the previous year were in the range of $17,500 to $19,999.” Perdue is also championing the removal of 700,000 people from any food assistance by reducing food stamps and pushed the rollback of healthier public school lunches. Over 20 million children need the National School Lunch Program for almost half their daily calories and 40 percent of their vegetable intake.

DDT also has a plan to segregate public housing by using esoteric changes in low-income housing. The change is so clever that 1968 Fair Housing Act violations would be hard to prove. The complex explanation is here

When he signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, DDT hoped that his trade deals would overcome the bad publicity from his impeachment trial. Despite signing “phase one” of his China deal, he failed. Since his 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum, the imports of these products have declined while products made from these metals “significantly increased.” His solution is to expand tariffs on products made of steel and aluminum on February 8 with the hopes that the flailing manufacturing in the U.S. will recover. Every time his tariffs fail, he raises them somewhere else.

Emails show that DDT’s appointees are making money for big business logging in forests through claims that climate pollution comes from California wildfires instead of fossil fuels. James Reilly, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, wrote scientists, asking them to “gin up” emissions figures and give him ones for a “decent sound bite” and make “a good story.” Scientists said that at the best, Reilly cherry picked data and at worst exploited a disaster by manipulating data. Numbers from the interior department significantly overestimate greenhouse gases from the fires, and logging wouldn’t prevent or lessen wildfires. Instead logging could stop the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide.  

DDT announced that he plans more and higher tariffs on European products after while people already complain about increases in wine from earlier tariffs. At the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) DDT insisted on talking to leaders about his trade “deals” although the conference was about climate change and cooperation. Gone is the 70-year connection between the United States and Europe to promote democracy and capitalism; DDT is now creating conflicts about climate change, trade, taxation, privacy, Iran, and defense funding as he threatens European leaders with tariffs. He’s using the same shakedown tactics with Europe that he does with China.

The UN determined that an internet account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman collected a huge amount of data from the cell phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after he was sent an infected video. The 2018 hack occurred before MBS’ torture and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Kamal Khashoggi but after Bezos’ newspaper ran an article critical about MBS’ regime and its “new ways of repression.” The video sent to Bezos, purported to be a promo on Saudi’s economic success, contained malicious code.

The release of information about the hacking came just before the showing of The Dissident, a Sundance documentary about Saudi Arabia and the killing of Khashoggi. The movie ends with a critique of U.S. companies still working with Saudi Arabia, empowering Khashoggi murderer. 

AG Bill Barr has sworn in the 18 members of DDT’s commission on policing to study how to “make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities.” Like DDT’s “voter suppression” commission almost three years ago, the commission skews toward highly conservative goals, this time expanding police forces, modernizing training, and countering criticism and “reform.” Seventeen of the 18 members belong to law enforcement or are prosecutors and judges. The 18th one has a background in police enforcement. Almost all the members are white males. From largely small and southern departments, they represent philosophies of criminalizing small crimes, using tasers, attacking protesters, opposing marijuana legislation, using false forensic science, fighting voting rights of people convicted of nonviolent felonies, battling police oversight boards, and covering up killings by police officers—in short, Barr’s ideology of authoritarianism. These “social ills” will be the commission’s focus. Barr said:

“The group should specifically evaluate how under-enforcement of the criminal law in certain jurisdictions affects public safety; perception of law enforcement and the laws they enforce; police resources and morale; and rule of law.”

Facebook came closer to merging with the Fox network when it hired Jennifer Williams, former developer of DDT’s favorite program Fox & Friends, to build the FB “news video component.” Williams has pushed such conspiracy theories as President Obama being educated at a “madrassa,” Ebola concerns, and the familiar—and non-existent—war on Christmas. Before he hired Williams, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the news would be curated by humans instead of algorithms. He has enabled right-wing propaganda and filled key positions with GOP operatives. Perhaps a new name for FB such as “FakeBook.”

 

 

November 7, 2019

GOP Impeachment Strategy: Lies, Smears

News about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)’s impeachment inquiry keeps dribbling out:

The Government Accountability Office is investigating DDT for possible law violation by withholding Ukraine aid with no supporting policy. In a legal review, the Pentagon concluded that congressionally approved funds must be released and expressed concern that the aid would expire last September 30 if not released.

DDT wanted Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to support DDT’s conspiracy theory by linking that false belief in Ukrainian interference for the 2016 U.S. elections with the word “Clinton,” according to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent. Gordon Sondland had told Tim Morrison about DDT’s wishes. More testimony from Kent from this transcript: 

Rudy Giuliani, DDT’s personal lawyer, orchestrated a “campaign of lies” against Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, with “assertions and allegations … without basis.”

Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, may have lied about Ukraine-related discussions he had with DDT. Fiona Hill, the top Russia expert on the National Security Council, told Kent about her concerns that Sondland “made assertions about conversations that did not match with what had actually been said.”

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, wielded power over Ukraine policy and controlled the military aid designated for Ukraine. “[Mulvaney] put a hold on all security assistance to the Ukraine,” Kent testified.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Kent’s boss, failed to back up Yovanovitch and lied about investigators trying to “bully” diplomats into testifying.

After Zelensky’s aides decided that they had to take sides in U.S. politics to get the vital military aid against Russian aggression, Ukraine was saved by leaks about the freeze on military aid and DDT’s extortionist July 25 phone call. Zelensky’s speech to agree with DDT’s demands was scheduled for September 13 on CNN after the news broke.

In an exploration of what VP Mike Pence knew about the scandal, his aid Jennifer Williams, testified about the July 25 call, which she heard. She said it was political in nature and didn’t understand why the military aid was not being released. She did believe that it might be tied to an investigation into the Bidens. Her notes from the call went into Pence’s folder.

Pompeo has worked hard to stay out of the limelight, but witnesses are moving the Klieg lights toward him about his mistreatment of his staff in favor of pleasing DDT. His three taxpayer-supported trips to Kansas recently indicate he might bail out from DDT’s administration; a Senate seat is open.

AG Bill Barr finally refused to do something that DDT wants: Barr won’t hold a press conference to declare that DDT broke no laws during his phone call with Zelensky.  The DOJ is even distancing itself from DDT, saying that it won’t endorse the withholding of military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an its investigation into the Bidens. Barr has also separated himself from Giuliani.

During today’s Roger Stone trial, jurors heard tapes of his lying under oath to the House about his involvement with hacking by Wikileaks and communication with a former radio host and comedian, supported by texts and emails from Stone. Charged with making false statements to the committee and committing obstruction of justice and witness tampering, Stone also lied about talking with DDT. One text to the comedian, who denied Stone’s claim that he was the intermediary with Wikileaks, from Stone read, “Prepare to die … You are a rat.”

Giuliani admitted DDT’s extortion in a tweet that was followed by his conspiracy theories about the Bidens:

“The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges, that kept changing as one after another were disproven.”

The same Republicans who expressed fury about closed House hearings now say that they won’t be watching the open hearings in the coming weeks—too busy, at their day jobs, hearings are “political,” etc. This video shows Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) excuse for his demanding impeachment in Bill Clinton’s refusal to submit subpoenas and exonerating DDT for the same action. Hint: it doesn’t hold water. Also, the highly incensed Republicans crying “unfair” about closed hearings aren’t bothering to attend them even if they can. Those who do, spend their time asking unrelated questions, complaining about the process, and planting information about the whistleblower. For Sondland’s testimony, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 2-1.

Republicans may have difficulty spinning these acts:

DDT suspended the military aid himself by ordering Mulvaney to tell budget officials that the funds were frozen, perhaps permanently—one week before his phone call extorting Zelensky. Officials were told not to tell members of Congress about the frozen aid.

Giuliani publicly confirmed the whole plot at DDT’s direction and to personally benefit DDT. Giuliani said, “I don’t do anything that involves my client without speaking with my client.”

Those texts explain of Sondland’s confession that he directly informed a top aide to Zelensky that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” That was DDT’s demand of a public statement from Zelensky exonerating Russia of electoral sabotage and falsely implicating in corruption.

Pence directly delivered the message about suspended aid to Ukraine and told him he needed to do more to fight “corruption” on top of demands by Sondland and Giuliani.

Former Florida AG Pam Bondi has been added to DDT’s impeachment team after it dumped former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). She will have “special government employee” status, meaning that, as a part-time employee, she won’t have to meet the regular ethics rules and continue her outside work. The ethics deal helps Bondi because she has a checkered career. Six years ago, DDT’s now defunct charitable foundation, legally prohibited from donating to political campaigns, paid her $25,000 immediately before Bondi dropped investigation of solid allegations against the “Trump University.” This morning, Bondi called Jared Kushner “one of the smartest human beings” she’s ever met.

DDT claims that he’s done nothing wrong, but he refuses to turn over Bill Taylor’s notes to the House, blocks as many people as possible from complying with legal subpoenas, and conducts a “witch hunt” to find the whistleblower reporting his phone call with Zelensky. 

One of DDT’s recent strategies to distract people from his crimes and impeachable offenses is a concerted effort to out the whistleblower who alerted everyone to the July 25 phone call. After making demands on the media to follow this order, his sycophants comply with possibly legal violations of a law to keep whistleblowers’ identities confidential, preventing retaliation. Conservative press, however, named a person, and Donald Jr. retweeted the name from Breitbart News. Jack Prosobiec, responsible for publicizing the conspiracy theory of Pizzagate about Democrats involved in a child sex abuse ring leading to a shooting in a restaurant, originally came out with this name for the whistleblower that he said “sounds like” the person.  

By Monday’s campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin with DDT, fellow Kentuckian and GOP Sen. Rand Paul violated the Hatch Act and then demanded the release of the whistleblower’s name, a violation of another law. Yesterday, Paul blocked a resolution to protect whistleblowers although Libertarian Paul supposedly fights for privacy. The identity of the person—even the person’s testimony—has lost all relevance after the number of witnesses appearing in House hearings, but it’s a diversion.

Next week, open House hearings for the impeach inquiry, called a “partisan clown show” by DDT, open with Bill Taylor, who testified about two different quid pro quos from DDT and his abuse of Marie Yovanovitch. Testimony will include highlights of how Giuliani is in charge of foreign policy regarding Ukraine. In his earlier testimony, Taylor also said that getting the military aid released was difficult because of “the Greenland question, about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy in the NSC.” Taylor said that a meeting with DDT was “hard to schedule.”

DDT claims that he’s done nothing wrong, but he refuses to turn over Bill Taylor’s notes to the House, blocks as many people as possible from complying with legal subpoenas, and conducts a “witch hunt” to find the whistleblower reporting his phone call with Zelensky. DDT tries to hide everything he does.

The one success DDT can claim is pleasing Russia. Showing the fiasco of the lying to defend Republicans, a Russian commentator said that DDT is “making Russia great.” She continued:

“The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States. America is getting weaker and now Russia is taking its place in the Middle East. Suddenly, Russia is starting to seriously penetrate Africa… So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States—yes, he is. And that’s why we love him… The more problems they have, the better it is for us.”

Russia predicts another win for DDT in 2020. DDT is giving Vladimir Putin everything he wants and more.

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