Nel's New Day

March 20, 2020

DDT: Week 165 – Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic

With daily press briefings about the state of the country after going without them for almost a year, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is trying to appear somber, knowledgeable, and presidential. Yet he loses his temper and rants against the reporters, and he can’t get out more than one or two sentences without telling a lie. Although almost everything that happens now is tainted by the growing number of cases of covid-19 and the resulting deaths, he still has time to lead the U.S. back into the last century.

In an update from earlier this week, Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) aren’t the only members of Congress who have enriched themselves through the threat of covid-19. Others are Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), James Inhofe (R-OK), and Ron Johnson (R-WI). Johnson, who compared deaths from the virus to those in vehicle accidents, sold all his stock in his family’s company for between $5 million and $25 million. Inhofe has done this before when he purchased shares in the defense contractor Raytheon in 2018 after lobbying Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to increase defense spending. Once that transaction became public, he canceled it. 

George Conway points out, “There is no new Trump.” DDT is still lying to the U.S. population with only one goal—get reelected. And DDT won’t stop lying.

On Wednesday, after Joe Biden beat Bernie Sanders in all three states that voted, DDT smeared Biden at a press briefing. Asked about his lack of credibility, DDT cut off a reporter and railed:

“Who are you asking that question—I see that [ratings are] very high. 95% of the Republican party. We just had a poll that was done by a very reputable group where I’m beating sleepy Joe Biden by a lot in Florida, in the state of Florida and in other states. I don’t really know who you’re talking about.”

By Thursday, DDT was delivering a long rant against the media, and on Friday, DDT attacked Peter Alexander who asked DDT for a message “to Americans who are scared.”  

DDT continued his purge of career professionals by firing Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Travers took the position last August when Joseph Maguire was moved up to director of intelligence. Maguire was recently replaced by unqualified DDT-loyalist Richard Grenell. Travers was reluctant to fire people as Grenell wanted. Acting deputy of the Center, Peter Hall, is supposedly moving back to the National Security Agency. The theory behind fewer people at the Counterterrorism Center is that ISIS and al-Qaeda are much less of a threat.

Dale Cabaniss abruptly left her job as director of the U.S. Government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in charge of human resources policy and security clearances, after five months on the job because of DDT’s new head of the Presidential Personnel Office. John McEntee, DDT’s 29-year-old former body man, was fired by former chief of staff John Kelly because McEntee’s gambling habit and allegations of financial crimes caused him to fail a security clearance. Kelly is gone, and DDT-loyalist McEntee has returned into a position of power. He’s hiring his friends, including at least college seniors, to surround him.

With McEntee in control of her staffing, Cabaniss couldn’t send clear, timely messages to agency managers about responses to the health crisis. Guidance about staff teleworking was delayed and vague although health officials wanted people to work from home. Respected for her experience, Cabaniss was seen as restoring moral to her agency with a mission of administering federal health insurance policies, retirement claims, benefits, and workforce policy.

Instead of passing a new surveillance law giving DDT unwarranted spying powers, the Senate unanimously approved a 75-day reauthorization of three provisions. On recess, the House has yet to pass the bill. DDT is considering a veto because he wants to look into “the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” Two senators objected to the lack of privacy that the proposed bill sent them from the House. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened the staff and their family members of the International Criminal Court that is investigating alleged war crimes by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

The increase of restrictions around the world is leaving grocery shelves more and more empty, but the growing number of infected people isn’t the only problem that people in the U.S. will have with food shortages. Farmers warn that DDT’s limits on seasonal workers from Mexico will exacerbate the surging problem. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue’s new policy will lose 60 percent of the necessary laborers. Grain harvesting is largely automated, but farmers need fruit and vegetable pickers.

In another disaster, DDT is threatening dozens of endangered species in the Southeast by proposing genetically engineered crops on wild public lands. The increase of glyphosate and other pesticides harms bees, butterflies, and other pollinators necessary to humans’ food supply and other species in the wildlife refuges. DDT recommends pesticides on 131 refuges in ten states, the Virgin Island, and Puerto Rico—about four million acres.  

The EPA is moving farther away from science by restricting research to be used in public health protection decisions and scientific assessments. It removes thousands of scientific papers by public health scientists keeping data from being public for privacy reasons. Experts fighting covid-19 by treating patients, researching vaccines, and educating the public will have no involvement in stopping the pandemic in the U.S. Members of national health organizations will also need to stop their work with the virus to write comments of protest to the proposal because the EPA gives only 30 days for a response. The proposal covers decisions about vehicle emissions, clean air standards, and clean water protections as well as EPA’s own “state-of-science reports, technology assessments, weight-of-evidence analyses, meta-analyses, risk assessments, toxicological profiles of substances, integrated assessment models, hazard determinations, exposure assessments, or health, ecological, or safety assessments.” The idea for the proposal comes from tobacco lobbyists in the past that helped them control government decisions.

Amid all the virus noise, the media largely overlooked the rocket attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops. Two of them were seriously injured. Last week, the U.S. retaliated against militia blamed for the deaths of one British and two U.S. service members, killing a number of Iraqis. Officials in Iraq have asked the U.S. to stop its unilateral military actions and work with Iraq. Under the shelter of coronavirus news, DDT is pulling troops out of three western Iraqi bases in a retreat from the Iraqi militia. Troops left one base this week with others planned soon.

The Pentagon blames Iran for killings by Iraqi militias, and the U.S. announced more sanctions against Iran.

Early sanctions have denied Iranians medication and supplies as thousands of people are dying from the virus. Iran lacks sufficient testing kits, ventilators, antiviral medicine, and other life-saving supplies.

A major requirement for keeping a job in DDT’s administration is open admiration. VP Mike Pence displays this every day at the press briefings. Another mandate is covering for all DDT’s lies and mistakes. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gamely tried to explain away DDT’s disastrous Oval Office speech on a Sunday news show when Jonathan Karl asked him about why the market reacted negatively to DDT’s misleading and false statements.

About the market, Mnuchin said, “The stock market is going to go up, it’s going to go down.” In the last month, the Dow has gone down over 10,000 points—one-third of its value and about 650 points above its value on DDT’s inauguration day. As for all the information that DDT got wrong, Mnuchin said, “I don’t think in an Oval Office address you can address every single issue as you’re discussing it….” Asked why he got “things wrong about his own proposals,” Mnuchin replied, “I don’t think he got things wrong at all.” Mnuchin continued to spin.  

DDT is now trying to convince people that he doesn’t care about careening stock markets, but he wants to preserve his former low unemployment rate as a reelection talking point. With businesses rapidly being closed to protect people from the virus, the number of unemployment claims have skyrocketed. DDT asked state labor officials to delay letting anyone know the numbers, to only “provide information using generalities to describe claims levels” until next week. It’s a follow-up to DDT’s saying he wanted to leave all the people on the ship because “I like the numbers where they are.” With DDT, it’s all about numbers that make him look good. Politico calls it “scoreboard obsession”—always keeping score.

In one of the biggest monthly drops, economic confidence dropped from 41 to 22, down almost 20 points. Even the Republicans’ confidence went down 11 points.

United States covid-19 cases: 19,772 with 389 new ones today; deaths: 279 with 23 more today.

March 13, 2018

Fired by Tweet

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) once again avoided saying, “You’re fired!” by tweeting the name of a replacement for former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. For almost 60 weeks, he has weaseled out of firing anyone, leaving it to others such as Chief of Staff John Kelly or driving people to resign through humiliation. Early this morning DDT tweeted:

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!”

According to Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein, Tillerson didn’t know he lost his position until he read the tweet. Goldstein said that Tillerson “did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason” for his firing, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve.” He added that Tillerson had “every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security.” Since then, Goldstein was fired, leaving only one permanent undersecretary out of six. The only one remaining plans to leave when his replacement is confirmed.

DDT said that Tillerson is gone because they don’t agree and that he picked Mike Pompeo, former CIA Director, because they do agree. Recently DDT and Tillerson disagreed about concerned the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Tulia, in Salisbury, England. Tillerson supported British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying that Russia most likely is responsible. He said that the poisoning as part of a “certain unleashing of activity” by Russia that would “certainly trigger a response” and that the nerve agent definitely “came from Russia.” Tillerson told British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that he’s “extremely concerned” about Russia and that his efforts to push the Trump administration to resolve differences with the Kremlin “didn’t get very far.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders first repeatedly avoided the mention of Russia in connection with the poisoning and described the attack as “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible.” Since Tillerson’s firing, DDT has said that he and May need to ask Russia about the poisoning. Typically, DDT accepts Putin’s answer when he refuses to take any blame, i.e., when DDT asked Putin if he meddled in the U.S. presidential election.

Nikolai Glushkov’s death in London yesterday also has the marks of Russian involvement. The Russian exile was close to the late oligarch and former Putin close friend Boris Berezovsky, who died five years ago in English where he sought exile after a falling out with the Russian president. A large number of Russian exiles have mysteriously died, considered either murder or unexplained.

The Senate must confirm Mike Pompeo before he takes the position of Secretary of State. If this happens, Pompeo may help DDT to support Russia by leaving the Iranian deal, permitting Iran to resume nuclear empowerment, and follow a hawkish approach toward North Korea. DDT and Tillerson also disagreed about blockading Qatar in support of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. DDT decided to oppose Qatar after his son-in-law Jared Kushner lost a loan from a wealthy resident of Qatar. Tillerson also skipped a visit to Israel in his Middle East tour.

The media started guessing about Pompeo’s replacing Tillerson over five months ago, but DDT kept denying that there was a problem. In secret, however, he criticized Tillerson and listened to those who advocated his firing. Many people thought Tillerson’s position with DDT was in jeopardy, especially after he reportedly called DDT a “moron” last summer. Yet the guess was that that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster would be the next to go. NBC has this record of 25 key departures since January 30, 2017.

A few Pompeo shortcomings while U.S. GOP representative from Kansas and CIA director:

  • For six years, Pompeo was the #1 all-time recipient of Koch Industries, receiving almost $1 million for four elections.
  • A Tea Party member, Pompeo is a major denier of climate science, determined to fight the Paris Climate Accord that is supported by almost 200 nations. During his CIA Director confirmation hearings, he refused to answer any questions about climate change.
  • Openly anti-LGBTQ, Pompeo refused to honor the CIA’s diversity mandate and became openly angry about questions about the CIA commitment to diversity. Pompeo also defended DDT’s “many sides” statements about Charlottesville (VA) protesters by claiming that DDT’s condemnation of bigotry was “frankly pretty unambiguous.”
  • Pompeo blackmailed Harvard Kennedy School into rescinding its invitation to Chelsea Manning as “visiting fellow” by cancelling an appearance to a Harvard forum in a letter that stated, “I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.” He also said that Edward Snowden should be executed as a treasonous traitor.
  • Although he knew that Michael Flynn was subject to Russian blackmail, he kept briefing Flynn on classified secrets.
  • Overtly political in his defense of DDT, Pompeo first consistently said first that the CIA had not found any information of Russian meddling in the election. He said, “We conducted an election that had integrity.” After Russian meddling became public, he claimed that the intelligence had proved Russian interference did not affect the outcome of the 2016 election. CIA officials had to correct him and explain that the CIA did not conclude anything about the Russian affect on the election.
  • Pompeo blamed Iran for the chaos in Iraq, Yemen and other parts of the Middle East.
  • Inserting religion into public CIA events, Pompeo also described the War on Terror as a clash between Christianity and Islam.
  • Pompeo supports domestic surveillance operations, including against U.S citizens.
  • CIA officials distrust CIA Director Pompeo because of his loyalties to DDT, despite the CIA being an independent agency.

This is the man who could be fourth in the presidential line of succession after vice president, speaker of the House, and Senate president pro tempore.

Gina Haspel is another problematic choice for CIA director. She operated a prison in Thailand that used torture interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and personally participated in the torture. When this was discovered, she then ordered the tapes of the torturing destroyed. Rolling Stone has a description of the torture. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, a Berlin-based NGO, has called for Haspel’s arrest for her role in the torture of detainees.

Studies show that torture is not an effective method of obtaining information and often results in the tortured people lying to end the torture. A 2014 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded, “the CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.” Multiple detainees, according to the report, “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence.”

Also unexpectedly fired today was DDT’s personal aide John McEntee who is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes. The Wall Street Journal described these as online gambling and mishandling of his taxes. Security officials escorted him out of the White House before he could get his jacket and other belongings. DDT immediately hired McEntee as senior adviser for campaign operations.

DDT may fill the swamp with even more hawks if he appoints TV personality Larry Kudlow to replace and former UN Ambassador John Bolton as national security adviser. Gone is the diplomacy in favor of DDT’ bullying manner. Tillerson was blamed for doing very little; Pompeo may do much more, but his actions can be dangerous for the United States.

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